Sama along with other women’s groups in Delhi was invited for a meeting called by Delhi Health Secretary on May 11, 2016 at Delhi Secretariat to discuss the implementation of MoHFW Guidelines and Protocols on Medico-legal care for survivors of sexual violence in Delhi government hospitals. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), Government of India in March 2014, had come out with detailed Guidelines and Protocols on Medico-Legal care for survivors/victims of Sexual Violence. It was brought about in light of the recent changes in the laws regarding rape and sexual assault, these guidelines were aimed at providing an appropriate understanding of sexual violence, the needs and rights of survivors/victims of sexual violence and to highlight the medical and forensic responsibilities of health professionals.
The meeting was attended by representatives from all Delhi hospitals (HoD Obs/Gynae, CMOs) including the Nodal Officers for Sexual Assault cases and One Stop Centres; representative of the Delhi Legal Services Authority
Sama during the meeting provided critical inputs regarding the existing gaps and concerns with regard to the hospitals preparedness and systems to respond to survivors of sexual violence. Continuing use of older proformas in the hospitals to document medico legal findings, non-uniformity amongst hospitals in its response, and lack of counselors in hospitals and overall challenges with lack of resources were some of the issues put forward by Sama. Hospitals too shared their own experience and challenges while seeking support from the government for having updated proforma as per the MoHFW guidelines, centrally printed and provided to every hospital. Hospitals also requested the government to provide a copy of MoHFW guidelines to them.
Based on the discussions during the meeting, the Health Secretary requested the representatives of the women’s groups (SAMA, Jagori, Lawyers Collective and HAQ) to visit the Delhi hospitals and prepare a monograph report on the current practices and preparedness towards management of sexual assault cases for submission to the government. It was decided that further a follow up meeting on this will be called by the government wherein the groups will share their points based on the hospitals visits undertaken. The Health Secreatry also decided to look into printing of the MoHFW proforma and providing a copy of MoHFW guidelines as per the request of the hospitals.