[Svrilist] Research on Genital Photography in Sexual Assault

Annie Lewis- O'Coonor annielo at bu.edu
Tue Sep 5 18:56:53 SAST 2006

esearch on Genital Photography in Sexual AssaultDear Colleagues

Timely discussion:)
Video-documentation should ALWAYS be done with consent...ALWAYS and that consent needs to be very clear.  I offer a few options:
1)  Video-document for the purposes of visualization and  asessment and diagnosis.  Then delete the pictures.  (This is such a wonderful tool for the clinician- I like to have this option instead of a dichotomous choice:)
2) Video-document for the purposes of visuslaization, assessment, diagnosis and retain copy for medical record.
This second option must be clearly spelled out that the medical record and pictures are supoenable.  While most pictures rarely end up in court, there is no guarantee.  In one area that has been video-docuementing children for 8 years only  2 times did pictures end up in court.

Annie Lewis-O'Connor PhD (c), MPH APRN
Pediatric and Ob-Gyn Nurse Practitioner
Boston Medical Center
Child Protection Team
annielo at buedu
---- Original Message ----- 
  From: Angela Williams 
  To: Sexual violence research initiative. 
  Sent: Monday, September 04, 2006 11:18 PM
  Subject: Re: [Svrilist] Research on Genital Photography in Sexual Assault

  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 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 proceedings?

  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  

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