PRESS RELEASE – Rape and gender-based violence is a grave human rights violation.
The victims of rape and other forms of sexual assault have experienced physical and mental health conditions, often including acute traumatic injuries. Acute traumatic injuries in sexual assault can be relatively minor, including scratches, bruises, and welts. However, some women sustain fractures, head and facial trauma, lacerations, bullet wounds, or even death.
The annual police report on sexual offences reports “For the year 2015 the Sexual Offences Category realised a decrease of twenty four (24) cases or 9% from 2014. As it relates to detection rates, 2015 realized a 53% detection rate as compared to 62% in 2014. There was an overall decrease in Sexual Offences for 2015. However, the offence of Rape showed an increase of 11 cases. Detection rate decreased by 11% for Sexual Offences.”
Human Rights advocate, Felicia Browne, adds that the report is a good indication that victims are reporting their experiences to the police. When a victim is sexually assault, he or she receives physical and psychological injuries which require medical attention. Many of these injuries are at times not covered by State funding. This is one of the major concerns for many victims and their families. We must continue to implement gender-sensitive policies including both preventative and intervention measures to address issues associated with rape and other gender-based offences.
The challenge for many victims and their families is to receive the best of medical care during their traumatic ordeal. Though many societies provide victims with free medical services; some injuries may require surgery and other costly medical care which are not covered by the State. Sexual offence legislation should enjoin overall protection of victims including medical and legal services.The psychological and mental health consequences of sexual offences like rape, are detrimental for many victims.
Additionally, health care providers should continue to report rape or rape-crisis treatment of minors to the police. We must work together as a society to protect the rights of victims and their families.
The risk of injury increases for adult women rape victims in the following situations: the perpetrator is a current or former intimate partner; the rape occurs in the victim’s or perpetrator’s home; the rape is completed; harm to the victim or another is threatened by the perpetrator; a gun, knife, or other weapon is used during the assault; or the perpetrator is using drugs or alcohol at the time of the assault. Up to thirty-eight percent of female rape victims sustained an injury in addition to the rape.
The health care providers, police and legal authorities should be specially trained and equipped to assist sexual-assault victims. For instance, rape and sexual assault are legal terms that should not be used in medical records. Rather, the health care provider should only report the findings and not state a conclusion. Using direct quotes or information from the patient for the history and detailed descriptions and photos of the physical findings are sufficient. Even terms such as “allegedly raped” should not be used as a diagnosis.
Browne reiterates that government, civil organisations and the general public should continue to advocate for the rights of victims and their families. We must transform our laws and attitudes to reflect our solidarity against gender violence. The death of rape victims, and the living victims of rape should never escape our memory when seeking justice for human rights and national development. The public should continue to speak up and speak openly on rape and other forms of discrimination towards women and girls.