Example: in Africa for Women’s Rights: Ratify and Respect! Dossier of Claims (2010), which summarizes the statutory laws, customary laws, traditions, and practices on women’s human rights in over thirty African countries, the authors noted that the unavailability of medical personnel contributed to the low rate of reporting of rape in some countries.
Example: The Amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code (2006) of Austria entitles victims of sexual offences or dangerous threats, and their intimate partner or relative who was a witness to the offence, to psychosocial and legal assistance. The Code also authorizes funding to support court accompaniment for victims.
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is “short-term antiretroviral treatment to reduce the likelihood of HIV infection after potential exposure, either occupationally or through sexual intercourse.” From: World Health Organization. (See: Stefiszyn, “A Brief Overview of Recent Developments in Sexual Offences Legislation in Southern Africa,” Expert paper prepared for the Expert Group Meeting on good practices in legislation on violence against women, May 2008.)
Example: the law of Minnesota, USA, states that hospitals must offer information and services to all female sexual assault victims on emergency contraception:
(a) It shall be the standard of care for all hospitals that provide emergency care to, at a minimum:
(1) provide each female sexual assault victim with medically and factually accurate and unbiased written and oral information about emergency contraception from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and distributed to all hospitals by the Department of Health;
(2) orally inform each female sexual assault victim of the option of being provided with emergency contraception at the hospital; and
(3) immediately provide emergency contraception to each sexual assault victim who requests it provided it is not medically contraindicated and is ordered by a legal prescriber…Minn.Stat.§145.4712 (2009).
A study in Zambia found that with training police could effectively provide sexual assault survivors with emergency contraception and refer survivors to health facilities. Reports of sexual violence increased by as much as 48 percent during some years of the study. See: Keesbury et al., The Copperbelt Model of Integrated Care for Survivors of Rape and Defilement (2009).
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act (No. 32) of South Africa provides that when a survivor reports a sexual assault to the police or a medical practitioner, the survivor must be informed of the importance of obtaining PEP within 72 hours of the assault and of the need to obtain information about sexually transmitted diseases. Ch. 5, 28 (3).
Amnesty International, Six-point Checklist on Justice for Violence Against Women (2010). The checklist is organized by steps that victims must take in order to report a crime and seek redress through the criminal justice system. It also identifies laws, policies and practices which still need to be reformed and other obstacles to the successful implementation of the legal framework. Available in Arabic, English, French, Mandarin and Spanish.
South Africa provides a guide for victims entitled “Understanding the Criminal Justice System” which explains the structure of the South African court system, a victim’s rights, and what a victim can expect in court hearings. It defines terms which victims may encounter to aid in their understanding. Available in English, Afrikaans, Zulu, and eight other languages.
The Manhattan, New York, United States District Attorney’s Office provides a brochure for victims of sexual assault with important guidelines for witnesses and victims regarding their rights. It explains the services offered by the Victim Assistance Center, Property Release Center, Notification Center, Social Services Center, and Counseling Center and gives their locations and hours. Available in English and in Spanish.
Nainar, Vahida, Manual: Litigation Strategies for Sexual Violence in Africa (2012) This Manual examines the different legal options available to a victim/survivor of sexual violence or a rights group on her behalf. The manual outlines three types of legal systems in Africa: the common law system, the civil law system, and Islamic law. It discusses regional and international human rights mechanisms that may apply, including international humanitarian and criminal law. The manual outlines strategies for victim redress through a lens of practicality and gender-sensitivity with the overarching focus on increasing the access to justice for victims of sexual violence by eliminating gaps in knowledge and encouraging them to utilize the national, regional, and international justice system.
World Health Organization and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Clinical Management of Rape Survivors: Developing protocols for use with refugees and internally displaced persons (2004). Available in English, Arabic, and French. This guide provides information and practical steps for addressing the needs of survivors in emergency settings. It provides practical lists of resources, materials, and drugs required, a checklist for examination protocols, and information on how to develop situation-specific protocols. It can be used as a training manual for health care providers.
World Health Organization, “Guidelines for Medico-Legal Care for Victims of Sexual Violence” (2003), available in English.
For a video on the links between violence against women and HIV/AIDS, click here.
Women Won’t Wait Campaign, An Essential Services Package for an integrated response to HIV and Violence Against Women, (2010). This guide outlines services that must be provided by health, law enforcement and legal service providers, and in schools, religious spaces and emergency settings, provides detailed guidance on how each setting can address the intersections and links to additional resources. Available in English.
OSI's Public Health Program, What Works for Women and Girls: Evidence for HIV/AIDS Interventions (2010). This website is a resource for practitioners working on health, HIV and AIDS and related isues. The site is based on a review of literature and data from over 90 countries and provides brief descriptions of evidence-based programming strategies as well as gaps in interventions, and covers key issues including reduction of violence and discrimination against women. Available in English.
World Health Organization, Prevention and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections for sex workers in low- and middle-income countries: Recommendations for a public health approach (2012). Available in English. This guide provides technical recommendations on effective interventions for the prevention and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among sex workers and their clients.
CASE STUDY: Multi-country Initiative Found Privacy, Training, and Referrals Improved Health Service Response
International Planned Parenthood/Western Hemishere Region partnered with organizations in three countries (PLAFAM in Venezuela, PROFAMILIA in the Dominican Republic, and INPPARES in Peru) in organization-wide initiative in 11 health facilities to improve all levels of the response to victims of violence. Improvements included:
The programme evaluation found that survivors benefited from increased privacy and exposure to services such as legal assistance, counseling, and support groups. The overall quality of women’s health care also improved. Health care providers had more knowledge of good practices on treating victims of violence, evidenced by the providers’ improved ability to detect cases of violence and to provide appropriate and sensitive care. See: Contreas, et.al., Sexual violence in Latin America and the Caribbean: A desk review (2010) p. 62.
Example:The Prevention and Elimination of Violence Against Women and Gender Violence Law (2008) of San Marino provides that “[t]he examination of the victim in court [in preliminary proceedings] shall take place so as to avoid having to repeat it. To this end, the Investigating Judge shall adopt any appropriate measure, including having the examination videotaped.” Title II, Art.23.
The Amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code (2006) of Austria allows certain witnesses and victims who are very young or vulnerable to be questioned using audio and visual transmissions so they may not be re-victimized. § 165, § 250.
Under Article 68 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, a number of explicit protections are offered to victims of sexual violence in the courtroom, including requiring judges to prevent harassment and intimidation of victims on the stand and allowing female witnesses and victims to have a support person, legal representative, or family member present during their testimony. In addition, victims do not have to testify in the presence of the aggressor- they may utilize closed hearings or video hearings, or voice-and-image-altering technology to protect their identity. See: Danya Chaikel, Does gender matter at the International Criminal Court? The Hague Justice Portal, (8 Mar 2011). Available in English.
Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Sexual Violence Justice Institute, Tips For Testifying As A Witness (2010). This fact sheet provides tips to help witnesses know what to expect and how to act in a courtroom setting.
UNICEF/Asociación por los Derechos Civiles, Guia de buenos practices para el abordaje judicial de niños, niñas, adolescents victimas o testigos de violencia, abuso sexual y otros delitos (2010). This guide is for judicial personnel and other professionals working with child and adolescent victims and witnesses of violence in justice processes. The guide comprises three sections that cover guiding principles and international standards for working with child and adolescent victims and witnesses; guidance for interviews with children and adolescents, including the rationale, objectives and components of interviews, training and monitoring and infrastructure needed; and specific steps for each phase of the investigation process. Available in Spanish.
Zero Tolerance, Handle with Care: A guide to responsible media reporting of violence against women (2011). This guide sets forth standards and procedures for reporting on men’s violence against women. Survivors’ perspectives challenge journalists to help change society by reporting men’s violence against women in a more neutral way. Available in English.
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