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WHO background paper: Obstacles to women accessing forensic medical exams in cases of sexual violence.
New York, New York, Human Rights Watch, 2001 Jun 25. 22 p.Despite the success of the women’s human rights movement in highlighting the issue of violence against women, many countries have yet to implement the necessary criminal justice system reform to ensure that, at the very least, wo men can pursue redress through the criminal justice system. This work must happen in the larger context of dismantling de jure and de facto discrimination against women. It is women’s second class status that makes them vulnerable to violence and bars them from receiving effective redress through the criminal justice system. Women’s rights activists all over the world are doing extensive work training police, prosecutors and judges to address pervasive bias and ignorance. A group of professionals largely untouched by this advocacy are doctors or other health professionals responsible for collecting, analyzing and testifying about forensic evidence in cases of sexual and gender based violence. In this paper, we call on the World Health Organization (WHO) to establish minimum standards for the collection of evidence in cases of sexual and domestic violence. We also call on WHO to draft a policy paper to support the effective implementation of the minimum standards. This paper should explore obstacles to the successful implementation of these standards such as discriminatory rules of evidence and procedure; the failure of states to criminalize specific conduct such as marital rape; and, the belief that only virgins can be raped. (excerpt)