An action council formed in solidarity with the survivor held a protest on Thursday in front of the District Collectorate, demanding action against the officials for alleged lapses.

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Coronavirus COVID-19 Friday, September 18, 2020 - 10:00

The COVID-19 patient in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district who was sexually assaulted by an ambulance driver earlier this month tried to take her own life on Thursday at the Government Medical College Hospital, PTI reported. She tried to take her own life in the isolation ward but was rescued by the hospital security staff who broke open the door, they said. A duty nurse alerted others on noticing the woman closing the door of the room as her mother stepped out in the afternoon, the sources said.

Doctors believe that the trauma she suffered in the ambulance and the COVID-19 disease could have been the reason behind the act. It was on September 5 that a 19-year-old woman, who tested positive for coronavirus, was sexually assaulted by the driver of the 108 Ambulance that was shifting her to a COVID-19 First-Line Treatment Centre. Twenty-eight-year-old Noufal, who was arrested by the police hours after the incident, has also been removed from Kerala 108 ambulance service (which is under the state government).

Meanwhile, an action council, formed in solidarity with the survivor, held a protest on Thursday in front of the District Collectorate, demanding action against the officials for their alleged lapses.

“There are some lapses on the part of the district officials and they should also be brought under the lens of investigation,” Vijayan Mamood, a member of action council, told Media One.

Following the assault, there was criticism over why the patient was shifted close to midnight though she did not have any serious COVID-19 symptoms. Aranmula MLA Veena George had also alleged lapses on the part of district officials, stating that no one enquired about the patient even after she did not reach the COVID-19 centre within the expected time.

Read: COVID-19 patient's rape in Kerala: MLA Veena George alleges major lapses by dist admin

After the sexual assault, a few had started a slander campaign and claimed that the survivor and the alleged rapist knew each other. The district police chief KG Simon had then categorically denied this and said that the same ambulance driver had driven the patient's mother to hospital the previous day of the incident and that was the only acquaintance between them.

Dalit groups like Akhila Kerala Kuravar Mahasabha and Welfare Party, too, extended support to the protest held in front of the Pathanamthitta District Collectorate. The action council has also raised the demand that a woman police officer in the rank of Inspector General of Police should continue the probe and that the government should give employment to the survivor.

“The security of the woman and the family should be taken over by the government. The case should also be taken up by invoking relevant sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,” the action council told TNM.

Following the incident, the state government drew flak for hiring a man with a criminal background as the driver of 108 ambulance service. Noufal is an accused in an attempt to murder case in Kayamkulam.

If you are aware of anyone facing mental health issues or feeling suicidal, please provide help. Here are some helpline numbers of suicide-prevention organisations that can offer emotional support to individuals and families.

Tamil Nadu

State health department's suicide helpline: 104

Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050 (listed as the sole suicide prevention helpline in Tamil Nadu)

Andhra Pradesh

Life Suicide Prevention: 78930 78930

Roshni: 9166202000, 9127848584

Karnataka

Sahai (24-hour): 080 65000111, 080 65000222

Kerala

Maithri: 0484 2540530

Chaithram: 0484 2361161

Both are 24-hour helpline numbers

Telangana

State government's suicide prevention (tollfree): 104

Roshni: 040 66202000, 6620200

SEVA: 09441778290, 040 27504682 (between 9 am and 7 pm)

Aasara offers support to individuals and families during an emotional crisis, for those dealing with mental health issues and suicidal ideation, and to those undergoing trauma after the suicide of a loved one.

24x7 Helpline: 9820466726

Click here for working helplines across India.

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