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35 How. J. Crim. Just. 1 (1996)

handle is hein.journals/hjcj35 and id is 1 raw text is: 



The Howard journal Vol 35 No 1. Feb 96
ISSN 0265-5527, pp 1-20





  Doctors, Rape and Criminal Justice



                        JENNIFER TEMKIN
            Professor of Law and Director, Centre for Legal Studies,
                            University of Sussex


Abstract: This article considers the medical examination of women who report rape to the
police. Fourteen women who reported rape to the Sussex police between 1991 and 1993 were
interviewed in depth about their experience of the medical examination. Eighty-six per cent of
them were wholly, mainly or partly negative about it whilst 36% were wholly or partly positive.
The article considers those factors perceived as positive and those perceived as negative. It offers
some suggestions as to how medical services for victims of rape might be improved.

In  the 1970s concern  began  to be expressed  in this country about  the
treatment  of rape victims by the criminal justice system (see, for example,
Heilbron  Committee   1975). One aspect of this disquiet was the manner in
which  medical  examinations  were  conducted  (see, for example,  Smith
1980).  Improvements   in victim care introduced  in the 1980s  generally
included  measures  to ameliorate  the provision of medical  services but
there  has  been very  little research to confirm  how   successful these
measures   have  been  from  the consumer   point of view.'  This article
examines  the  medical experiences of a sample  of women   who  reported
rape  to the Sussex police during the years 1991  to 1993 with a view  to
ascertaining their attitudes towards and perceptions of the service which
was  provided.  It will also consider whether  there is room  for further
improvement.


                              Background
 In the late 1970s and 1980s, trenchant criticism was voiced about almost
 every aspect of the medical examination of sexual assault victims (see, for
 example, Smith   1980; Davis  1985; Blair 1985). It was  suggested  that
 forensic examinations were not  uncommonly   carried out negligently, so
 that vital evidence was lost, and that police surgeons were forming their
 own rapid judgments   as to the veracity of the complainant  which  was
 leading to less than thorough examinations  in some  cases (Smith  1980,
 pp. 48-9).  There  was  frequently  little collaboration between  police
 investigating the case and the examining   surgeon with  the result that

                                    1
@  Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 1996, 108 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 I]F, UK
and 238 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA

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