NEW DELHI: Sexual assault should be seen as a gender neutral term as such cases do not necessarily always involve girls or women. Many men, particularly young boys, are also subject to sexual assault. Recognising this facet, Lok Nayak Hospital has developed a protocol to attend to the needs of such patients.
The medical director of Lok Nayak Hospital, Dr J C Passey, told TOI that they are utilising the services of One Stop Centres — started in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya gang rape — for initial check-up and counselling of male survivors of sexual assault.
“If there is a need for swab collection or surgery, the male survivors are referred to paediatric or general surgery depending on their age,” Passey said. Those under 16 years of age are referred to paediatric surgery, while the older ones are referred to general surgery department.
The paediatric surgery department head at Lok Nayak Hospital, Dr Y K Sarin, said they see 2-4 cases of sexual assault cases involving boys in a year. “Most of them do not have severe physical injury, but they are traumatised. They need extensive counselling. Also, swabs have to be collected for forensics examination,” he added.
Sarin said that the workload of rape cases involving girls or women is much more, so the exposure to deal with them is better. However, in case of sexual assault involving boys or men, there is lack of experience among resident doctors on how to deal with them because such cases are reported occasionally.
“Forensics department should be involved for examining such patients. If paediatric surgery department has to handle them, even then there is need for training doctors on how to collect swabs,” Sarin added.
Last year, Delhi reported eight cases of children being sodomised in school premises. In 2007, ministry of women and child welfare, supported by United Nations Children’s Fund, Save the Children and Prayas, conducted a study to understand the magnitude of child abuse in India. They found that 53.22% children faced one or more forms of sexual abuse. Among them, the number of boys abused was 52.94%.
“Patriarchy is oppressing male children and acts as a barrier to seek psychiatric help in collaborative child response unit,” found another study published in Indian Journal of Psychiatry last year.
Dr Sudhir Gupta, professor and head of forensics medicine at AIIMS, said that in cases of sexual assault in males, particularly sodomy, where the survivors are mostly of young age, injuries are severe.
“Forensics examination is required to document the injuries and form an opinion for investigation purpose,” he added. Experts stress on the need to remove gender bias in addressing the needs of survivors of sexual assault.