Victims aren’t handing rape kits over to police, researchers find


Solely two-thirds of eligible sexual assault survivors select to bear a “rape equipment” and fewer than one-third subsequently hand over the forensic proof to police, say researchers on the Ottawa Hospital.

“We see a big quantity of sufferers inside our program and there is nice attrition within the charges of people who find themselves going to pursue the entire justice aspect of issues,” mentioned Dr. Kari Sampsel, medical director of the hospital’s Sexual Assault and Accomplice Abuse Care program.

Throughout Canada, solely 33 in each 1,000 circumstances of sexual assault are reported to the police; six lead to prosecution, of which three finish in a conviction, says the examine revealed on-line Tuesday within the Emergency Medication Journal.

Hospital emergency rooms are sometimes the primary level of contact after an individual experiences a sexual assault, say the researchers, who need to encourage ERs Canada-wide to step up efforts to assist sexual assault survivors to safe justice in what is commonly a posh and stigmatizing authorized system.

Troublesome course of

As a part of the Ottawa Hospital program, sexual assault survivors are supplied the chance to bear a rape equipment — the gathering of proof that features bodily fluids, fingernail scrapings and DNA samples, reminiscent of these left on clothes.

But many survivors decline to undergo the method, which might take eight to 10 hours and will really feel like a second violation, Sampsel acknowledged.

“It may be very overwhelming for somebody who’s been victimized,” she mentioned, including that there additionally might be worry about getting concerned within the legal justice system.

“Individuals are afraid of what the method can be. They’ve seen this sort of case play out very publicly typically and so they actually don’t need to be a part of one thing that is going to probably have an effect on their life that a lot.”

The notion of bringing prices and going to courtroom might be much more daunting when the assailant is an intimate accomplice, she mentioned from Ottawa.

“So individuals could select not to try this as a result of that may fully blow aside their world … and so they cannot afford to have their life disrupted in that method.”

The analysis was carried out on the Sexual Assault and Accomplice Abuse Care program on the Ottawa Hospital. (Danny Globerman/CBC)

Few flip over to police

The examine, based mostly on 2015 case registry information from the hospital’s program, confirmed 77 per cent of 262 sufferers who had been sexually assaulted have been eligible for a rape equipment, which have to be carried out inside 24 hours to 12 days after an incident, relying on the kind of assault.

However solely 129 of those that have been eligible accomplished the method and simply 60 subsequently handed over the forensic proof to police, the examine discovered.

Greater than 90 per cent of sufferers have been feminine. Survivors ranged from 16 to 80 years previous, with a mean age of 24.

Medicine or alcohol have been concerned in additional than half of circumstances. This may have an effect on recall of occasions, and is commonly used to undermine the survivor’s credibility in courtroom, the researchers level out.

In nearly 55 per cent of circumstances, the perpetrator was identified to the survivors or was an intimate accomplice. In 16 circumstances, a number of assailants have been concerned. Most assaults occurred within the survivor’s or assailant’s house, whereas one in 20 incidents occurred in scholar dorms.

Survivors aged 16 to 24 have been greater than twice as probably to undergo the rape equipment course of; those that did not know their assailant or have been uncertain of their id have been greater than thrice probably to launch the rape equipment proof to the police, as have been those that had been assaulted open air, researchers discovered.

System wants fixing

Nicole Pietsch, co-ordinator of the Ontario Coalition of Rape Disaster Centres, mentioned whereas forensic proof is effective in verifying that sexual contact occurred, it could’t show it wasn’t consensual.

“Having the ability to show that as a survivor, the place the proof is simply based mostly in your physique or your narrative, is a extremely difficult factor to do, not as a result of it did not occur essentially however as a result of there is not bodily proof by way of consent,” mentioned Pietsch, who was not concerned within the analysis.

“The issues usually are not in the truth that they do not want to come ahead. I might say the bigger drawback lies within the reality our legal justice system does not have the tooth typically to give you the option to progress survivors’ tales in the best way they’ll different crimes.”

Sheila Macdonald, director of the Ontario Community of Sexual Assault/Home Violence Therapy Centres, agreed that survivors typically really feel the justice system is not going to serve their pursuits.

“They’ve their fears and self-blame … the place anyone says ‘This occurred as a result of I used to be out ingesting’ or ‘I should not have invited him house,”‘ she mentioned. “So these myths are already on the market and so they’re internalized in individuals, so there’s an enormous reluctance to come ahead and report.”

Macdonald, who works out of Girls’s Faculty Hospital in Toronto, mentioned the limitations that make survivors reluctant to come ahead want to be addressed, together with these posed by the legal justice system.

“What’s it within the construction and the system that is creating these limitations that anyone who might be so violated can say ‘I am unable to come ahead?’

“That is the place our focus wants to be.”



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