Concern over increasing cases of sexual assault on women

In the backdrop of the recent brutal sexual assault on a young woman in New Delhi, the Indian Psychiatry Society has suggested that the government adopt a gender-sensitive approach towards victims of sexual assault.

Speaking to presspersons on the sidelines of the inauguration of the 65th annual national conference of the society on Thursday, R. Raghuram, co-chairperson of the conference, said the society recently submitted its recommendations to the Justice J.S. Verma Commission, set up to amend laws to expedite justice delivery to victims of sexual assault.

“We have made it clear that political and spiritual leaders should avoid making statements that hurt the sentiments of the victim and stop being gender biased,” he said.

Rape trauma syndrome

Pointing out that rape and its consequences should be categorised as rape trauma syndrome (RTS), Dr. Raghuram, who also heads the Department of Psychiatry at Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), said the trauma of rape victims must first be assessed with help from family and society. “This should be parallel to the legal process,” he said.

Indira Sharma, who assumed charge as president of the society at the conference, said judges handling rape cases must have done a course in psychiatry. This was required to understand the sensitivity of the case, she said.

Expressing concern over the increasing cases of sexual assault on women, Dr. Sharma said it was unfortunate that even mentally challenged women were not spared. She said the mental health Bill that was being formulated by the government should include laws for the protection of the weaker section.

The four-day conference, focussing on the theme ‘Psychosocial adversity and mental health’, has over 3,000 participants from across the globe.

The former director of the World Health Organization’s Division of Mental Health Norman Sartorius, outgoing president of the society Roy Abraham Kallivaylil and chairperson of the organising committee of the conference S. Kalyanasundaram also spoke.

On the occasion, guidelines on postgraduate training of psychiatrists, marriage and mental illness, and Indian mental health concepts were released. The conference is on at the NIMHANS Convention Centre.

More In: Karnataka | National