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GLOBAL Request for information on forensic examination to confirm rape

Dear colleagues,

I am looking for some information on the reliability and validity of forensic examination procedures to confirm rape cases. What proportion of rape cases would have been missed, if the only evidence used was a doctor’s exam? (Say, even in the ideal case, that a woman goes to a facility within 24 hours of the assault.) What are some other kinds of hard evidence to prove rape? I am interested in both the medical and legal aspects of “proving rape” and I am looking for information/data to support the point that searching for hard evidence can be many times futile/not feasible. My context is when abortion can be legally provided in cases of rape, how do you actually go about that? I am interested to hear from you if you have any information/guidance.

One response

In the clinic in which I work as an abortion provider we have developed a forensic protocol for collection of fetal tissue for DNA where this is wished by the woman. We have worked in conjunction with the police and an organisation called Doctors for Sexual Abortion Care who are the doctors who rape perform forensic examinations nationally where rape is alleged. The protocol is available for use in all centres.  

All it can show is reliable DNA evidence that the father of the fetus is a particular man. It cannot show that this pregnancy occurred as the result of a rape if alleged. 

In my experience most of the women presenting with a history of sexual assault resulting in the pregnancy have already decided not to progress a police complaint. However from time to time it is collected. We do not have the facilities to store such samples so we can only collect if the woman is prepared to make a complaint to the police. 

If you can provide other useful information, please send it to: mberer@rhmjournal.org.uk