Rape, Sexual Assault: Chemical or DNA tests mandatory | Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 28, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:01 AM, May 28, 2018

Rape, Sexual Assault: Chemical or DNA tests mandatory

Police must record complaint without delay, says HC

Chemical or DNA tests must be conducted in all rape or sexual assault cases, and the DNA and other samples should be sent to lab within 48 hours of the occurrence.

Besides, the officers-in-charge of the police stations have to record complaints of rape or sexual assault of women and children without any delay and discrimination.

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These are among the 18 guidelines that the High Court has come up with for ensuring protection and justice for the victims.

“In all rape cases or cases of sexual assault, chemical/DNA tests are required to be conducted mandatorily. The DNA and other samples should be sent to the forensic science lab concerned or DNA profiling centres within 48 hours of the alleged occurrence”, the HC said.

The HC bench of Justice Farah Mahbub and Justice Kazi Md Ejarul Haque Akondo came up with the guidelines in the full text of its verdict on a 2015 writ petition that challenged the delay in recording a case following the gang rape of a Garo woman in the capital.

It also said any information relating to the cognisable offence like rape or sexual assault has to be recorded by the officer-in-charge of the police station concerned irrespective of the place of occurrence. And a designated website should be opened to register his/her complaint online.

“The statute should contain specific provision dealing with refusal or failure of the officer concerned of the respective police station without sufficient cause to register such cases,” the court added.

On May 21, 2015, the Garo woman was forced into a microbus near Jamuna Future Park and was gang-raped at Kuril in Dhaka. The 21-year-old was then dropped off on Jasimuddin Road in Uttara.

According to media reports, police wasted time in recording her complaint and sending her to a victim support centre.

Rights organisations Naripokkho, Mahila Parishad, Jatiya Adibasi Parishad, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust and Ain o Salish Kendra jointly filed the writ petition with the HC on May 24, 2015, seeking necessary orders over the gang rape.

The petition said failure of the police to take prompt and effective measures to ensure treatment and referral services for the victim amounts to negligence by the state in protecting every person's right to physical health including sexual, reproductive and mental.

The HC bench on February 18, 2016 disposed of the writ petition and released the full text of its verdict in April this year.

“Every police station must have round the clock a female police official not below the rank of a constable. On receipt of the information of the offence or rape or sexual assault, the duty officer recording the information shall call the female police officer present at the police station and make the victim and her family members comfortable,” the verdict read.

Throughout all the phases, the identity of the victim should be confidential, the HC said, also suggesting keeping a list of female social workers who may be of assistance at all police stations.

The HC said the statements of the victim should be recorded in the presence of a lawyer or a friend nominated by her, or a social worker or protection officer.

“The victim should be made aware of her right to protection from the state and given any information she requests on the matter. The duty officer immediately upon receipt of the information shall inform the victim support centre,” said the verdict.

The HC judges said interpretation services should be provided where it is necessary, especially for women or girls with disabilities who are victims of rape or sexual assault.

“After reducing the information into writing, the investigation officer along with the female police official available, shall escort the victim for medical examination without causing delay”, the court said in the judgement.

The judges said, “The victim support centre should be discreet and should at all times have all the facilities required for the recovery of the victim.

“Any failure in duty on the part of the investigation agency in collecting the report or causing the victim to be taken to the nearest hospital for medical examination would be punishable offence.”

They added that the investigation officer shall try to complete the investigation as early as possible.

There should be wider dissemination of the hotline for complaints on violence against women -- 10921 -- through electronic and print media and designated websites.

In addition to all this, an office has to be established in every metropolitan city for providing necessary security, medical, chemical and counselling assistance to victims.

The HC ordered the offices concerned of the government to strictly follow and observe the guidelines until required legislation is formulated on the matter.

It also directed the office of Supreme Court registrar general to communicate the verdict to the ministries of law, home and children and women affairs and the inspector general of police for taking necessary steps for the enforcement of the guidelines.

THE GARO WOMAN'S CASE

The Rapid Action Battalion arrested two persons -- Ashraf Khan alias Tushar and Jahidul Islam Lavlu -- on May 28, 2015 in connection with the case filed for the gang rape of the indigenous woman. 

It submitted charge sheet against them to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court of Dhaka on August 23 the same year. A Dhaka court is now holding the trial.

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