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Govt sends out circular on new definition of rape, assault

India on 10 October 2013
Location : New Delhi, India | Source : Indian Express. Image Source: Ramesh Lalwani

The Delhi government's Health department has circulated a recent order by a Rohini court, where two doctors from Babu Jagjivan Ram (BJRM) hospital were pulled up for their lack of awareness of amendments to the definition of sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The doctors had conducted the medical examination on a child who had alleged sexual assault and given "a clean chit to the accused".

The court said the medical report, which found "no sign suggestive of sexual abuse", "given just to negate the injury marks", was "in contradiction with the provision of the POCSO Act and Section 375 of Indian Penal Code".

According to the circular issued by the Health department to medical superintendents of all Delhi government hospitals, the new provisions have "redefined sexual assault for children for "better and effective implementation of the provision of law".

The order, issued on August 3, said the doctors submitted before the court that "they were not aware about the latest amendment/introduced definition of sexual abuse/assault as per provision of law".

According to the amended definition of rape under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, now apart from penetration, even oral or other forms of sexual acts come within the definition of rape.

Concept of penetration which was earlier used to prove sexual assault has now been done

away with.

The court rebuked doctors for their apparent lack of awareness, stating that "doctors, despite being the stakeholders in criminal justice system, are not sensitised or made aware about the latest amended provision of POCSO Act or definition of rape amended under Section 375 of Indian Penal Code.

Therefore, there is an imminent need to sensitise all the doctors regarding the newly amended provision of law".

Quoting Section 3,7, and 11 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act on the definition of sexual assault/abuse/harassment of children, the court observed that "it has been conceded by both the examining doctors that they have given the opinion merely on the basis of assumption of penetrative sexual assault, whereas in view of the latest amended provision, their report is contradictory".

The court said under the above sections, "even touch of the accused to private part of the victim child or vice versa is sexual abuse/assault.

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