Eleven state and civic-run hospitals across Mumbai have been short- listed to conduct medical examination on sexual assault survivors. A police notification regarding the same, ( a copy of which is available with SUNDAY MiD DAY) has been issued on October 29 to all 93 police stations across the city.
SUNDAY MiD DAY had reported on September 29 (‘ Take sexual assault survivors to nearest hospital, urges top cop’), how medical officers had a meeting with the Joint Commissioner of Police ( Admn) Hemant Nagrale and had a detailed discussion on the issue along with Police Surgeon SM Patil. One of the suggestions made was to divide the shortlisted hospitals for respective police stations, just the way postmortem centres are divided in the city. This was suggested to reduce th load of Nagpada Police Hospital and also ensure that prompt medical assistance is given to sexual assault survivors and vital evidence is collected.
The notification is yet to be enforced completely at police station levels and cases of sexual abuse are even today brought to Nagpada Police Hospital. On Saturday, two cases from Dharavi and Meghwadi police stations, which otherwise as per the order should have been sent to LTMG, Sion and Oshiwara maternity or Cooper Hospitals respectively, were sent to Nagpada Police Hospital.
Speaking to SUNDAY MiD DAY Police Surgeon Dr S M Patil was a bit apprehensive and said that the entire process would take time before it could be made fully operational.
He said, “ Apart from the medical colleges, ( Nair, KEM and Sion) peripheral hospitals and dispensaries will face a major problem in handling additional work load of examining sexual assault survivors. For instance, recently, a sexual assault survivor was taken to Siddharth Hospital in Goregaon, but instead of conducting the medical examination, the hospital referred the case to Nair Hospital. Such practice only hassles the survivor and the police.”
However, doctors attached to Nagpada Police Hospital have a different view. “The new system will help to provide quality service as the survivor will be taken to the nearest designated centre for examination, instead of being brought to Nagpada. Also usually, a policeman has to visit the Nagpada Police Hospital three to four times just for one case — first to get the victim medically examined, then get the accused for medical examination, later return to collect the samples and finally to issue court summons. The new arrangement will help cops save time.”
The doctor further explained, “ In a sexual assault case, the earlier the medical examination of the survivor is conducted, the better. That way crucial evidences can be gathered more promptly, which in turn, will help the police to make the case stronger against the accused.” However Dr Patil stated that his hospital would continue to examine the survivors, if they were brought there. “If any police station gets the survivor and the accused to the police hospital, I cannot refuse treatment and examination, as this would be against the Supreme Court order.”