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Maharashtra to set up Clinical Forensic Medicine Unit with Rape Crisis Centre in hospitals across the state

Nagpur: In a move to increase the conviction rate in bodily offences and to handle the crime against women, especially rape, sensitively and properly, the state government’s department of medical education has decided to establish Clinical Forensic Medicine Unit (CFMU) with Rape Crisis Centres (RCC) in hospitals across the state in a phased manner.

The state government has also constituted a panel of four experts, under the chairmanship of Assistant Director of Medical Education & Research, Mumbai, to prepare the standard operating procedure (SOPs) for the proper functioning and management of these centres (CFMU-RCCs). The undersecretary of Law and Judiciary department has been appointed as an adviser of this committee.

The move follows the direction given by Girish Mahajan, Minister of Medical Education, on the detailed report of Dr Indrajit Khandekar about the establishment of CFMU with RCC all over the districts of the state, as per the letter issued by Hamid Ansari, Under Secretary, Ministry of Medical Education, to him on December 15.

Dr Khandekar, who is in-charge of the country’s First Clinical Forensic Medicine Unit (CFMU) at Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (MGIMS), Sevagram – Wardha, has been following this matter for more than a year and had submitted detailed report about this issue on July 25, 2015 to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis; and Vinod Tawade, then Medical Education Minister; Dr Deepak Sawant, Health Minister; Ram S Shinde, Minister of State for Health; and Ranjit Patil, Home Minister.

“CFMU with RCC will definitely help to improve the quality of clinical forensic work — medical examination of sexual assault cases, age estimation of rape victim & accused, recording of dying declaration, medico-legal injury report preparation of assault victims, domestic violence cases, alcoholic person examination, weapon examination etc — thereby also help improve the conviction rate of bodily offences, which is abysmally low at present,” said Dr Khandekar in a statement

It is a known fact that women survivors of violence face tremendous physical, emotional and psychological trauma, which often re-victimizes them or makes it difficult for the women to continue legal processes.

“The major concern in the provision of services for violence is to ensure that women are not further victimized but are treated sensitively. CFMU with RCC, which will provide a combination of all the required medico-legal, forensic, legal and other support services in a systematized way under one roof to the victims and operate in a women-friendly environment, which has worked well in many other countries, is one of the key solutions in the right direction to address this critical issue,” added Dr Khandekar.

The range of services to be provided by CFMU with RCC in hospitals to sexual assault and other victims are:

1. Medical & forensic medical assistance through a properly trained doctor
2. Collection of forensic evidences including DNA evidence
3. Collection of statement
4. Police assistance to assist women in filing the FIR report
5. Psycho-social support and counselling
6. Legal aid and case management
7. Shelter in the form of short stay with food and clothing

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