India should ensure dignified treatment for rape survivors: HRW



Washington: India must adopt and enforce measures to ensure the dignified treatment and examination of sexual assault survivors and eliminate the use of 'finger tests' in rape cases, a leading rights body said today amid protests against the brutal rape of a 23-year-old Delhi girl.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the December 16 incident should spur decisive action by the Indian government to combat sexual violence.

"It is much harder, but more effective, to revamp the response of police, doctors, forensic specialists, prosecutors, and judges to sexual violence. Survivors deserve an effective, coordinated response to sexual assault," Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director for Human Rights watch, said.

"The Indian government should establish national standards and a uniform protocol for the medical treatment and collection of medical evidence in cases of sexual assault, and to eliminate the use of finger tests on sexual assault survivors," HRW said.

"India does not have a uniform protocol for medical treatment and examination of survivors of sexual assault, making responses ad hoc and unpredictable, and in the worst cases, degrading and counter-productive," it said.

"This is reflected in the continued use of the so-called 'finger test'..... While conducting medical examinations, many doctors record unscientific and degrading findings ....," the statement said.

"The Indian government needs to adopt and enforce measures to ensure the dignified treatment and examination of sexual assault survivors. Dignity and accountability should underscore the police and medical responses to sexual assault throughout India," Ganguly said.

But, the group opposed the death penalty for the accused in all circumstances as an inherently irreversible, inhumane punishment.

"For politicians, supporting the death penalty is an easy but ineffectual way out," Ganguly said.

PTI