[Svrilist] Research on Genital Photography in Sexual Assault

Angela Williams angelac at vifm.org
Tue Sep 5 05:18:37 SAST 2006

Hi Suzanne,

It is interesting that you ask at such a time - we are in the midst of
debate on this topic.  


Practice:  Videocolposcopy is almost routinely performed on cases of
child sexual assault (past and recent).

               General consensus here is that there is rarely any
indication for the use of videocolp of genital examinations in adults,
and it is rarely performed.

               Photography of body injuries is common occurrence - child
and adult.


Policy:  Causing some very interesting debate presently.  I wont head
into the finest details as yet except to say that one state wants to
make policy against the use of videocolposcopy in adults.  Overall, the
examiners are understandably horrified that the decision doesn't lie
with them.  There is a draft policy circulating that has caused much
angst.  I will let you know of the final version if you are interested.
In the meantime, perhaps as a kneejerk response, the policy making teams
throughout Australia (!) are on the way to creating their own.  Indeed
our organisation (FAMSACA = Forensic and Medical Sexual Assault
Clinicians Australia) will be finalizing our own version shortly.


2) We hold a very strong view that NO genital photography reaches court.
Access to the Judge and both legal representatives is possible but is
also challenged.  The ideal scenario is that the two medical experts
view the material behind closed doors and agree to agree or disagree on
the findings.  Withholding this material from the court has not been a
problem in the system within which I work (yet! - as we are very mindful
that this may occur in legal process).


3)Recently the age range for children was redefined as 17 or younger in
the law...

However, genital photography on children is rarely performed in the
older adolescent group - I don't really have figures for you on this
one.  Personally, I probably perform them on 14year olds and less -
mostly as an exercise in teaching/reassuring than for legal reasons.
Mostly, they agree to using the videocolp to examine but not to
recording (therefore they (and I) can see but not taped).


4)       Yes to how they feel about them being done, but not sure if in
the context of proceeding to court.??


Your work is really interesting and if you have a moment keep in touch
regarding the progress.  I am also writing on behalf of the FAMSACA
organisation of which I am the president.  The website is:
www.Famsacaustralia.org.au <http://www.famsacaustralia.org.au/>  if you
ever want to browse.








Dr Angela Williams

Forensic Physician

Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine

11 Moore St, Southbank  VIC 3006

Ph: (03) 9684 4480

Fx: (03) 9684 4481

-----Original Message-----
From: Sexual Violence Research Initiative [mailto:svri at mrc.ac.za] 
Sent: Thursday, 31 August 2006 3:59 PM
To: Sexual Violence Research Initiative
Subject: [Svrilist] Research on Genital Photography in Sexual Assault


Dear Colleagues, 

The Ontario Network of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment
Centres in Canada, is conducting a review of current practice and
evidence of photographs of genital injuries and their use as evidence in
sexual assault cases. The findings from the review will inform the
development of a Province-wide policy on the use of such photo's, which
currently are not standard practice.

Specific questions being examined include: 

(1) What policies and practices are currently in use in other countries
and practice settings. 
(2) Are genital photo's being used in court cases, and if so, how and to
what end? 
(3) Are genital photo's being taken for both adults and children, and if
their use is limited to children what is the age range?
(4) Are there any studies that have looked at how victims feel about
genital photographs being taken and subsequently used in legal

Our preliminary scan of the academic literature has produced very
little. As such, we want to invite members of the SVRI listserv to share
any relevant policies, guidelines or research their respective agencies
have. Comments, questions, references and resources can be forward to
Suzanne Sicchia at: Suzanne.Sicchia at utoronto.ca

Many Thanks, 
Suzanne Sicchia, Research Consultant 
University of Toronto, Canada 

on behalf of the 
Ontario Network of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment  

This e-mail and its contents are subject to the 
South African Medical Research Council 
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