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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 72-76

Legal and ethical complexities in the examination of victims of sexual assault in India: A medical practitioner's perspective

1 Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Pramukhswami Medical College and SK Hospital, Karamsad, India
2 Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, SBKS Medical Institute and Research Centre, Sumandeep Vidyapeeth, Vadodara, Gujarat, India
3 Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, All Institute of Medical Sciences, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India

Correspondence Address:
Swapnil Sudhirkumar Agarwal
Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Pramukhswami Medical College, Karamsad - 388 325, Gujarat
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4958.204826

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Sexual assault causes tremendous physical and psychological trauma in women and children. Indian law recognizes sexual violence very seriously through various sections of the Indian Penal Code, yet the conviction rate is meager. It resulted in several amendments of Penal and Criminal Procedure Codes, Evidence Act along with Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act. These amendments intend to broaden the focus of medical examination from mere collection of evidence to a holistic approach for complete care and rehabilitation of victims.[1] However, these amendments have landed the medical practitioners as well as the victim in conflicts of ethical and legal issue such as mandatory reporting to police even when the victim is nonconsenting; mandatory examination, treatment and rehabilitation by any medical practitioner (government and private), and that too free of cost. The present article aims to highlight such conflicting legal and ethical issues for the medical practitioners who examine and treat such victims. All the relevant and pertinent statutory laws, guidelines, and regulations were studied together from the viewpoint of rights and duties of a medical practitioner. We intend the law makers to review the acts, codes, and guidelines for clarity, leaving no space for perplexity for medical practitioners and at the same time protecting the rights of victims of sexual assault.

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