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Gender-based Violence And Medico Legal Cases: Forensic Perspective – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

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EGBV 2 Day 4 Gender based Violence and Medico Legal Cases Forensic Perspective e1712152758653

Session Report
Reetwika Mallick

The Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi conducted a four week Online National Spring School Program on ‘Ending Gender-based Violence – Cohort 2: Awareness of Policies & Governance’ from March 5th, 2024 to March 27th 2024.

The course, spread over four weeks, provided a unique opportunity to gain in-depth insight into understanding, addressing and eradicating gender-based violence. The course led by esteemed experts, empowered the participants to expand their thinking and enhance their understanding of challenges surrounding gender-based violence. The four-week duration allows for an in-depth exploration of the subject matter, fostering a collaborative learning environment where participants shared experiences, perspectives, and innovative solutions. Through a combination of engaging lectures, interactive workshops, networking, guidance by thematic experts and practical exercises.

On day 4 of the ‘Ending Gender-based Violence – Cohort 2: Awareness of Policies & Governance’, Prof Vina Vaswani, Professor, Department of Forensic Medicine Director Centre for Ethics, Program Director, YU-FIC Masters in Research Ethics for India, Yenepoya deemed to be University, Deralakatte, Mangalore; Visiting Professor, IMPRI, discussed the role played by forensic medicine in cases of violence against women.

Explaining Forensic Medicine

Prof Vaswani embarked the session by explaining the history of evidence in dispensing justice. Elaborating on medico-legal cases, Prof Vaswani highlighted, forensic as a forum, where people come together to discuss issues in question. The medical knowledge is used as evidence before the judiciary and therefore, forensic sciences, Prof Vaswani is about translating medical knowledge for common people to get justice.

Medico-legal Cases in Domestic Violence: Gender Lense

Prof Vaswani, as an esteemed expert in the field, explained the role of forensic sciences in cases of domestic violence. Domestic violence, explained by Prof Vaswani as sexual violence committed against women within domestic spaces which includes- domestic abuse, sexual abuse, including murder. Prof Vaswani in the session discussed some of the crucial case studies of domestic violence and elaborated on the forms of gender-based violence faces from womb to tomb. Prof Vaswani shared facts and figures showing the rate of maternal mortality across the Indian states.

Prof Vaswani taking the session forward highlighted the universal nature of gender-based violence, whereby violence is faced among the most educated upper caste, upper class strata as well as lower socio-economic groups of people. Underlining the figures of female infanticide and female foeticide, Prof Vaswani compared such huge numbers with genocide.

Law and Ethics

Prof Vaswani in the session explaining the difference between law and ethics discussed the case studies of Dr. Aleck Bourne, who went beyond the law to terminate pregnancy of a mentally ill rape victim in 1938 on moral grounds. Prof Vaswani explained law as universally acceptable and legally binding. Ethics on the other hand, according to Prof Vaswani are principles that guide the society to decide what is wrong or right. Although generally laws and ethics are made in alignment, but many times they also contradict each other.

Child Abuse and Forensic sciences

Prof Vaswani explained, the injustices towards children when a case of physical abuse becomes medico-legal with involvement of police that hinders the treatment of the children. Child abuse is defined as abuse of children under 18 years of age by parents or guardians. The abuse towards children as mentioned by before the act, the child sexual abuse was treated at par with adult sexual abuse- it was difficult for the child to give evidence and no additional safety net for the children was provided expanded at the cyber sphere, especially during the pandemic.

The POCSO Act, according to Prof Vaswani is a positive step towards recognising child sexual abuse and dispensing justice to the survivors. Before this act, child sexual abuse was treated at par with adult sexual abuse, making it difficult for the children to give evidence also providing with no additional safety net. Prof Vaswani highlighted several benefits of the act along with criticising the act for not being able to provide for enough safe alternate rehabilitation centre, along with other lacunas.

Concluding the session, Prof Vaswani reiterated the need for solidarity within the society to fight against any form of violence along with the need for working together for dispensing justice against violence. 

Read more event reports of IMPRI here:

Legal Hands on Session III

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