09:30 GMT +311 December 2019
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    Indian Doctors to Face Jail Time for Sexual Relations With Patients

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    New guidelines on sexual boundaries for doctors prohibit doctors from having a physical relationship not only with the patient but also with members of the patient’s family for at least a year after termination of treatment/therapy.

    Indian doctors have taken upon themselves to resolve one of the most neglected public health problems, i.e. violation of sexual boundaries by health professionals.

    The Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) has circulated draft guidelines on sexual boundaries for doctors to follow while treating their patients. The guidelines stipulate that no doctor shall be intimate with his patient, physically or mentally, even if it is consensual. This also extends to family members who are part of the therapeutic doctor-patient-family dynamic.

    The authors of this policy believe that consensual sexual activity in a power imbalanced relationship like that of a doctor and patient is not truly consensual. This comes against the backdrop of a growing number of complaints against doctors for crossing their boundaries during the course of their work.

    The guidelines also prohibit the doctors from ‘inappropriately’ touching a patient and suggest they conduct physical examinations in the presence of a third person or a chaperon. Any doctor found violating these guidelines may be punished as per relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code that deals with rape, child sexual abuse, sexual molestation, adultery and sexual harassment at workplace.

    However, the guidelines allow doctors and patients to enter into a relationship legally once the minimum time-frame of one year elapses after termination of treatment.

    Laws relating to sexual abuse in India are mainly women centric. But the guidelines on sexual boundaries for doctors are not gender specific and apply to both male and female doctors and patients. The guidelines are expected to be formally adopted in October this year.

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