Lawmakers have called on the government to end the confusion over who has the power to let doctors examine mentally disabled people who have been the victims of sex crimes. The call for clarification comes amid conflicting views arising from a legal grey area that may be allowing sex attackers who rape and molest mentally disabled women to escape justice. Legislators have taken up the cause after the Sunday Morning Post revealed that the law was unclear as to whether the legal guardian of a mentally disabled person has the authority to give approve for a medical examination if that person has been raped. Even the Guardianship Board - which can appoint guardians for adults incapable of making decisions - said giving someone the power to give consent was 'out of its scope'. In a letter to Philip Beh Swan-lip, professor of pathology at the University of Hong Kong, in November, the Guardianship Board suggested Dr Beh seek advice from the police, the Hospital Authority and the Social Welfare Department. The Health, Welfare and Food Bureau, which overlooks the Mental Health Ordinance, has confirmed that a guardian granted that power by the board could give consent if the examination was in the victim's best interests. After seeking legal advice, the bureau also said: 'The Guardianship Board will provide advice and guidance to guardians and case workers of the Social Welfare Department to assist them in handling such cases.' That statement follows a letter the board wrote to the Sunday Morning Post last Friday in which it said that as 'an independent quasi-judicial tribunal and as such, it should not give general advice and particularly on matters primarily of a hypothetical nature'. The issue was one of criminal procedures and practices 'always ... outside its purview'. The board claimed that 'it suffices at this stage to say that the Guardianship Board generally endorses the views as expressed therein [by the bureau],' but refused to further comment on the remarks made by the bureau. Kwok Ka-ki, deputy chairman of the health services panel, said the board should seek clarification from the Justice Department. 'It would let rapists escape the law if they use the legal loopholes to escape prosecutions. Both the Guardianship Board and the Department of Justice should address the legal issue before [incidents arise where] sex victims need immediate medical examinations,' he warned. Security panel chairman James To Kun-sun warned of situations in which the attackers were victims' family members and refused to allow pathologists to carry out a medical examination to obtain evidence.