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Robustly and supportively prosecuting cases of violence against women and girls

Last edited: December 23, 2011

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  • Obtaining all relevant background material for pursuing cases of violence against women, such as medical reports, the offender’s criminal history, and evidence of other incidents.
  • Devoting time and adequate resources to case preparation, including cases of violence against minority populations.
  • Seeking full sentences for cases of violence against women and girls.
  • Training prosecutorial staff to reach out to specific populations such as immigrant women, female migrant workers, adolescent girls, and minority women.
  • Utilizing interpreter services, if necessary, at all phases of investigations.
  • Protecting survivors from irrelevant attacks on their character and inappropriate cross-examination. These attacks are often based upon stereotypes of victims of violence. Prosecutors should poll juries for evidence of gender bias and file motions for exclusions of unreliable and prejudicial expert testimony.
  • Using expert testimony to explain the dynamics of violence against women and its effect upon reporting of the crime, recanting, refusing to testify, and other common victim behaviours. Defense attorneys may pose this behaviour as unusual for rape victims, thereby undermining victim credibility. (Ellison and Munro, 2009).
  • Requesting special measures for vulnerable victims and others, including screens and video testifying.
  • Allowing defendants to cross examine victims in court only when using special protections such as screens, examination by proxy, or videotaping mechanisms


Tools to Support Prosecutions:

Rules of Procedure and Evidence (International Criminal Court, 2002). Rules 70-72 are on principles of evidence in sexual violence cases. Available in English, Español, Français, Русский, عربي, and 中文.

Introducing Expert Testimony to Explain Victim Behaviour in Sexual and Domestic Violence Prosecutions (American Prosecutors Research Institute, 2007). Available in English.

Educating Juries in Sexual Assault Cases: Part I: Using Voir Dire to Eliminate Jury Bias  (Mallios and Meisner, 2010). Available in English.