Online Program

Strengthening health system response to survivors of sexual violence through adoption of best practices in documentation of forensic evidence

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 12:30 p.m. - 12:45 p.m.

Karen Naimer, JD, LLM, MA, Physicians for Human Rights, Boston, MA
The Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) builds the capacity of health and legal professionals to document and collect forensic evidence of sexual violence according to best practices in support of women and girl survivors. PHR is currently implementing this program in Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Uganda, South Sudan and Central African Republic (CAR).

Health professionals are crucial first responders to survivors of sexual violence, yet many receive little training in the documentation of court-admissible forensic evidence. PHR's program demonstrates that bridging this gap through education in best practices can make a vital contribution to the abilities of health and legal communities to build prosecutions of sexual violence crimes. These prosecutions, in turn, uphold women's rights and provide survivors with access to justice.

PHR's primary strategies include:

1. Capacity-building –training doctors, nurses, and psycho-social trauma and recovery counselors in best practices for the collection of forensic evidence of sexual violence, including documenting health consequences, assuring appropriate treatment, and supporting legal assistance and advocacy

2. Cross-sectoral network– facilitating a forum for essential cross-straining and professional collaboration among members of the health and legal sectors

3. Advocacy – advocating for national and international reforms addressing the political, health, legal, social and cultural obstacles that derail efforts towards prosecution

This presentation will discuss how PHR's work presents an innovative and replicable model for strengthening the collaboration of health and legal professionals on sexual violence crimes through the adoption of best practices.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
List the obstacles to adequate documentation of forensic evidence of sexual violence Explain the role of cross-sectoral collaboration in strengthening prosecutions of sexual violence crimes Describe the benefits to women and girl survivors of adopting best practices in forensic documentation

Keyword(s): Sexual Assault, Criminal Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As Director of the Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones at Physicians for Human Rights, I am responsible for spearheading this forensic training and advocacy initiative that helps to forge networks of collaboration among medical, legal, and law enforcement personnel to support prosecutions and accountability for sexual violence in East and Central Africa. I also lead PHR’s international advocacy efforts for policy reforms addressing sexual violence.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.