South Goa rape victims have travel added to ordeal


While reactions to the Delhi rape incident continue to hound, in Goa, rape victims from South Goa are subjected to a cruel reality-no forensic department in the district.
Forced to travel to the Goa medical college and hospital at Bambolim for the mandatory medical examination, the ordeal is especially telling for victims from the state's southernmost taluka of Canacona for whom the journey is over 70 km, one-way.
But what riles those fighting for female victims of violent crimes even more than this seeming heartlessness of the state machinery is the absence of a fully-functional forensic laboratory in Goa. The building for the regional forensic science laboratory in Verna is ready, but the infrastructure and personnel are not. Police sources said it may be ready in the next financial year.
"Right now samples of vaginal swabs etc are sent either to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Hyderabad or the Regional Forensic Science Laboratory in Surat," says Caroline Colaco, a criminal advocate. The inevitably long time taken to get an analysis report and to set a convenient date for a person from the laboratory to come to Goa to depose before the court grossly delay cases, she says.From P 1
Sharing her personal experience, a rape victim from Salcete told TOI, "I had to travel to all the way to GMC for my medical examination after filing the complaint. It was traumatic."
Stressing the need for quicker procedures to aid rape victims get justice fast, she says, "The time taken for the medical procedure, for the police to file an FIR, for the sample analysis to come back, for the case to run its course are all deeply demoralizing."
Colaco adds, "These delays are also dangerous. The accused could walk free. After all when the trial starts only a year after the complaint was filed and the victim finally deposes before the court only two years later, the trauma of waiting can cause her to forget the small details that make a lot of difference."
She stresses that one of the major reasons for the delay in trials and the delay in filing chargesheets is that major exhibits (samples) often do not come back.
Pointing out that they have been chasing successive governments over these issues, Bailancho Ekvott president Auda Viegas says, "For the last two years we have been repeatedly requesting the government to set up a 24×7 forensic department attached to the gynecology department at Margao for sexual assault victims who are often minors."
Recently, the women's group, in a letter to the present health minister, once again demanded a fully-equipped and full-fledged forensic department in Margao on the lines of the one at GMC.
Margao DySP Mohan Naik says the police have been apprised by NGOs about the situation and the demands for a forensic department and a forensic science laboratory have been forwarded to the government for consideration.
"The forensic science laboratory is a priority for the Goa police. After all, our investigations too depend on the reports from laboratories outside the state. These laboratories cannot respond to the urgency of our requests because they have their own priorities and backlogs," said Naik.
Colaco signs off by demanding that the government also separate the crime police from the general police force. "You cannot have police personnel investigating a rape case and then being asked to go for bandobast duty." [TOI]