Victims of sexual assault need to be fully protected from any further harassment or ridicule as it takes a lot of courage to come forward and say they have been attacked, the Kerala High Court said today and invited suggestions from all lawyers on how such persons can be shielded from further trauma on account of the investigation process.

Justice Devan Ramachandran said that even though there are protocols in place to protect and support victims of sexual assault, "tragically" many a times these are found to be "not effectively implemented".

"It always takes a lot of courage for a victim of sexual assault to make a complaint and in some cases accusations are seen to be made, on account of process of investigation, which further traumatise her and subject her to harassment and ridicule," the Court said.

"That should never happen. This has to be arrested. We should ensure all the victims of sexual assault are fully protected and that the full might of the law is behind them," it added.

The Court said that the issue was not a small matter "and that is why we have all these principles of confidentiality" to ensure that the victim is not subjected to public gaze at all.

The observations came on a plea for police protection, where the victim has alleged that she was being harassed by not only the accused, but by certain police officers as well and as a result, she has been forced to go into hiding by residing with a close relative of hers.

The victim has also alleged that the police officers in question were acting in collaboration with the accused in the case.

She had further claimed that she had to go to the police station concerned with a request to conduct a DNA test of the foetus, a result of the assault, as she did not want to continue with the pregnancy.

However, steps were taken only after she moved the Court on that issue, her lawyer had said.

The court today said that once a woman makes a complaint of sexual assault and an FIR is lodged, she should not have to go back to the police station for anything else.

Whether the allegations in the complaint are right or wrong are immaterial and to be considered at the time of trial, the Court added.

The Court was set to dictate its judgement on the woman's plea on Thursday, but after the lawyer for the accused in the case sought more time, the matter was listed on January 12.

With PTI inputs