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Dhaka Tribune

Treatment guideline soon for rape, domestic violence victims

Update : 01 Mar 2014, 09:42 PM

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is going to finalise the draft of a comprehensive guideline for the examination and treatment of victims of rape and domestic violence soon.

A draft of the guideline has already been prepared and placed before the ministry recently by a sub-committee led by Dr Habibuzzaman Chowdhury, the head of forensic medicine department of Dhaka Medical College.

A separate 10-member main committee, headed by Additional Secretary (public health) Rokhsana Quader, is reportedly scheduled to meet on March 11 to discuss and finalise the draft guideline.

Subhash Chandra Sarkar, joint secretary (public health) of the health ministry, told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday that the ministry expected to finalise a comprehensive guideline within a month or two for the examination and treatment of victims of rape and domestic violence.

Sub-committee chief Dr Habibuzzaman told the Dhaka Tribune that the committee members have thoroughly discussed and reviewed the responsibilities of the police, doctors and court, as well as the existing act and different government directives regarding the examination and treatment of the victims.

Without revealing details, he also said few reforms have been suggested in the draft to make the guideline as victim-friendly.

Several members from both the main and the sub-committee said the draft guideline proposes a rule for only female doctors to examine rape victims, as well as suggesting doctors to seriously consider whether the “two-finger test” was needed for the victims.

In the draft guideline, emphasis was also given on ensuring proper behaviour with the victims, as well as completing the examination procedure within a short time.

On October 10 last year, the High Court issued a ruling, directing the ministry to develop the guideline to be observed by police, physicians and judges of the women and children repression prevention tribunals, and produce it before the court within three months.

Following the ruling, a 10-member senior-level committee, headed by an additional secretary of the health ministry, was formed on January 1 this year to develop the guideline. Other members of the committee include senior officials from the ministries of health, home, law, and women and children affairs, as well as health officials and human rights activists.

However, the ministry had failed to meet the 90-day deadline for preparing a comprehensive guideline.

Asked whether the health ministry would apply for a time extension from the court, Subhash Chandra said the petitioners of the writ have told ministry officials to notify the court of the delay, as the comprehensiveness of the guideline required more time. 

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