Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Oye! Chennai features Prajnya 16 Days Campaign

As posted on Oye! Chennai on November 27, 2013


Focus: Gender Violence Sensitisation

On Day 2 of the Campaign -- Prajnya entered the ‘real world’. We met two groups of women: Journalists and Nurses, and the conversations were definitely not a one way street! The closed group discussions gave everyone an opportunity to speak their minds.

Women journalists interact with senior journalist Ammu Joseph at Chamiers

Nurses at the GH after the gender violence sensitisation training conducted by Brinda Jayaraman and Dr Swarna Rajagopalan

When we speak of gender violence, people in the medical profession are one group who are in a position to help the victims. But are our hospitals prepared? Divya Bhat, the first Shakti Fellow with Prajnya Trust writes:

The role of the doctor within the Indian legal system is to provide the court with documentation of the assault, and to collect any forensic evidence that is on the body.  This entails recording any wounds on the body of the survivor, taking swabs and samples, and getting a detailed account of the assault in the words of the survivor. The ability to collect forensic evidence and accurately record this evidence in legal documents is crucial to prosecuting sexual assault cases; without good forensic evidence, sexual assault cases often rely on character assessments of the survivor.

After sexual assault cases are reported to the police in Chennai, survivors are taken to large government hospitals where a doctor can examine them.  Legally, any female doctor can see any female survivor of sexual assault, but these cases are often taken directly to the obstetrics and gynecology ward due to a lack of trained female forensic doctors.  Gynecologists, however, do not receive sufficient practical and training to collect forensic evidence and fill out the necessary paperwork in the proper and legally admissible way.  Without sound knowledge of forensic protocols or standardized training, doctors can rely on ad hoc and incomplete procedures that compromise the integrity of the forensic evidence.

Another important issue is highlighted by Dr V Kanagasabai, Director Medical Education and Dean, MMC. “Due to their heavy workload, sometimes doctors don't have the time to listen to their patients carefully enough. It is important for us to adopt an empathetic attitude in cases of gender violence, and to identify it for what it is. Doctors and paramedics should be aware of how to treat them. Awareness should also be created for the public on the legal options available, as well as on the punishment for sexual crimes,” he says

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