Aida Zabidi
When my medical assistant called me to attend a case brought in by her school teachers, I didn’t expect the words that came out of the mouth of my 14-year old crying patient. 

“My father.. put his thing – inside me.” 

I was shocked, but had to keep calm and get a history, but the brief that I got was basically that it wasn’t an isolated case, and had been going on for quite awhile. What was even more shocking was the allegation that the mother knew about the apparent rapes for the years it had been going on for. 

The scenario that ensued was pretty ugly, especially when the mother made an appearance in clinic, and I had to consult both my specialist and my social worker to make sure I followed the correct procedure.

I thought I would share a bit about the procedures when it comes to handling a case like this, because the implications of what you do stretches beyond the initial consideration of what happens at that moment in time. 

1. You have to report a case of rape, sexual assault or abuse of minors. 
Anyone under 18 is protected under the law and anyone who identifies a child at risk is responsible for making that report, even if the individual or the family doesn’t want this to happen. In this case, the mother of the victim tried to hush me up by insisting it was a family matter and should be resolved internally, but I politely told her it was my legal obligation to make the call. 

2. In a case of rape, the victim needs to be examined by a specialist. 
 Sometimes, I think a medical practitioner can either get a bit overzealous or tries to verify the story prior to referral to a tertiary centre. It is essential that the victim be examined by an O&G specialist to avoid allegations for any potential trauma could have been caused by the first practitioner who examined the victim. 

 3. When making a police report, please specify ‘untuk tindakan’, or ‘for your action’. 
 Apparently a lot of people write ‘untuk makluman’, or ‘for your attention’ while making the police report, which basically means that the police do not have the power to further investigate the case. I know it sounds trivial, but apparently cases have been thrown out of court for this! 

4. Guardianship and consent. 
 In a case where there’s suspected physical or sexual abuse, be very careful about getting consent from the victim. It’s so much easier when parents bring in the victim, but when the parents are suspected to be the perpetrators, temporary guardianship is assigned and the specialist in charge can be allowed to consent for certain procedures as needed. 

5. When in doubt, consult. 
Every place has a procedure to follow, and if you’re not sure of the correct procedure, please consult your specialist or someone who might know. Most hospitals have an OSCC (One Stop Call Centre), but if you don’t, you can call up the chain of command to find out who might know. 

Please don’t forget to counsel the victim and offer what comfort you can. 

I very clearly told my patient that I had to make a police report and that her father would be investigated, and told her of the possibility that she might have to be placed under temporary guardianship once social services got involved. I warned her that she would have to be examined intimately and that people would bombard her with the same questions again and again, and that she might have to be prepared to answer them. 

I know it’s a difficult road she has to walk and I pray that she finds the strength to overcome what trials she’s had to undergo so early in life.
0 Responses

Post a Comment