Taking cognizance of a report detailing the delay on part of the public health department in starting rape crisis centres across Maharashtra, the state government has directed the former to initiate the first phase of the Rape Crisis Centre (RCC) plan and submit a compliance report on the progress of the project.
In July this year, Dr Indrajit Khandekar, Associate Professor, Forensic Medicine, attached with the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, had filed a report with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Health Minister Deepak Sawant, and Medical Education Minister Vinod Tawde, explaining how the conviction rate in sexual assault cases is low due to poor sample collection and medical tests of rape victims.
In 2009, the central government had ordered all state governments to set up a Rape Crisis Centre for sexual assault victims. The centre, to be located in public hospitals, would be a one-point contact for the victim to get legal aid, counselling, medical tests, treatment and for registering a police case against the perpetrator. In the first phase, a dedicated centre was to start at all district hospitals across Maharashtra.
Khandekar, who has compiled the latest report, said that a lot of victims refrain from filing a case because the whole process of registering an FIR and undergoing medical tests is like a “second assault on them.
So far, only the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Mumbai, has been able to float the concept of a crisis centre in its three tertiary hospitals, KEM, Sion and Nair hospitals. However, even in these hospitals, no dedicated separate room or ward has been allocated to handle rape victims.