ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Rape and Medical Evidence Gathering Systems

Need for Urgent Intervention

Extensive reforms are required so that sexually assaulted women do not feel they are the "accused" when they submit themselves for medical examination and trial. Urgent reforms such as setting up humane rape crisis centres where women can directly approach women counsellors to tell their story, lodge a complaint, and get examinations done at one place are required to improve the situation.

While we mourn the death of the Delhi rape victim, the nation is stirred to think of corrective measures like never before. Concrete measures that need to be taken to make public places safer, ensure efficient response of the police, better investigation, swifter rather than delayed judgments, and improved rates of conviction are often suggested. Public debates are focused on the need for changing attitudes of the police, increasing availability of police personnel for patrol duties and investigations, social auditing of police functioning, setting up of fast-track courts, employing more judges and reducing the overall delays in justice. There are clear voices from women condemning societal double standards that attempt to curb women’s meagre freedoms and not question misogyny.

Of all the measures required for guaranteeing conviction in rape cases, the most unclear and understudied aspect is the method of medical examination in rape and its use in the courtroom. It is often assumed that the statement of the woman is enough to establish the crime of rape. Unfortunately, this is seldom the case. Due to the peculiar nature of the crime – one that seldom has an eyewitness and, hence, corroborative evidence – medical evidence and forensic samples are gathered to prove the offence of rape world over. However, this crucial link in the chain of evidence-seeking is often fraught with poorly equipped systems and biased mindsets.

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