(RTI Intervention Yields Positive Result)
On 10/7/2013 a Child Sexual Abuse case was referred to Pratidhi. The child was taken to LBS hospital for medical examination. The doctor told the victim and their family members that to conduct medical examination, doctor inserts their hand in the vagina and some time they have to cut the vagina also. As a result the victim was horrified and discouraged by the doctors to undertake gynecological medical examination. The investigating Officer reported this matter in writing to Child Welfare Committee, Dilshad Garden.
Similarly in one more case Doctor blamed victim’s family for what had happened with the child victim and dissuaded and refused to conduct gynecological medical examination. In yet another case child was beaten up by hospital staff in IHBAS for her abnormal behavior and not taking medicine.
Unnecessary delay in conducting medical examination of child victims of sexual abuse and insensitive handling by doctors and medical staffs is routine in almost all Delhi Govt. Hospitals with few exceptions.
Pratidhi has been working with child sexual abuse victims from last 16 years in Delhi. During last eight months, Pratidhi worked extensively with more than 125 sexual abuse cases. Hence, Pratidhi decided to intervene on this issue. Following strategy was taken in the matter:
I. A Workshop for Doctors in collaboration with Department of Women and Child Development, Govt. of Delhi was organized on the role of doctors/hospitals under the provisions of POCSO Act and Rules, 2012 A letter was sent to Mr. A.K. Walia, Minister of Health and Family Welfare with a request that Department of Health should issue a detailed SOP/ Circular for medical examination of child sexual abuse victim as per the provisions of POCSO Act, 2012 . http://www.indianexpress.com/news/stock-depleting-hospitals-await-kits-to-examine-rape-victims/1151632/
A RTI application was filed with Directorate of Health services on 19/6/2013 to know whether Department has issued detailed circular/SOP based on the provisions of POCSO Act, 2012.
A misleading reply was given by PIO. Hence, 1st appeal was filed on 26/8/2013.
Hearing on RTI matter was held on 11/9/2013. The Government officials itself agreed on the point that the Department had not taken any initiative in the matter and guidelines should be issued for hospitals/ doctors
V. Disposal order of appeal received on 23/9/2013 with the information that “the circular regarding guideline for hospital which includes provisions of POCSO Act has already been uploaded on the Delhi Govt. website for public display”.(http://www.delhi.gov.in/wps/wcm/connect/DoIT_Health/health/our+services/protection+of+children+from+sexual+offences+act%2C+2012-role+of+hospitals )
The whole process shows how RTI application made the Government recognize the gravity of matter and issue circular to all the government hospitals of state. The impact of RTI goes beyond just to provide information. It can lead to bring improvement in implementation of existing schemes and acts. Pratidhi, hope that other Child Right Organizations will also take up similar and more matters by adopting RTI as a tool for Child Protection/ Rights, which can help in dealing the issues of children on broader canvas.