DOJ Issues Guidelines for Medical Examinations of Sexual Assault Victims
New national guidelines on forensic medical examination in sexual assault cases were released by the Department of Justice this Wednesday. In addition to focusing on the victim's emotional and physical wellbeing during medical examinations, the guidelines also clearly state a recommendation that sexual assault victims are offered emergency contraception. In the case that the medical staff has moral objections, the patient must be informed where they can immediately obtain emergency contraception.
The last guidelines were issued in 2004 and were mostly focused on criminal prosecution. The new guidelines [PDF] prioritize the victim's emotional and physical needs over criminal prosecution. Bea Hanson, the director of the Justice Department's Office on Violence Against Women, cites this shift in priority as a means to help the victim and law enforcement better collaborate. "Research shows that once victims get support, they're more likely to cooperate with the criminal justice system," Hanson said.
A former investigator of sex crimes for the Phoenix Police Department, Sergeant Jim Markey, described the new guidelines as "long overdue." He explained, "What this does is this allows workers in the trenches, those victim advocates, those detectives and nurses, to go to the decision makers and leaders in their communities and say: 'You know what? Here are the standards. We need the resources to provide the minimum standards that are in this protocol.'"
Media Resources: Huffington Post 4/26/13; The New York Times 4/24/13; National Criminal Justice Reference Service
7/1/2015 Women's Rights Activists are Suing the Kenyan Government for Reproductive Rights - A woman in Kenya is suing the Kenyan government for failure to provide safe and legal abortions, which caused her daughter - a 15-year-old rape victim - to suffer a kidney failure after undergoing the procedure illegally.
Currently, there are four petitioners on the case: the mother of the survivor, the Federation of Women Lawyers-Kenya, and two other women's rights advocates. . . .
6/30/2015 Supreme Court Ruling Prevents Gerrymandering in Arizona - In a 5-4 decision delivered by Justice Ginsburg this morning, the Supreme Court upheld Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, allowing the use of independent state commissions that draw federal congressional districts, taking that power away from the state legislature.
This gives states an opportunity to deal with partisan gerrymandering by giving an independent commission power to draw federal congressional districts.
In 2000, Arizona voters amended their constitution, shifting the responsibility of drawing congressional districts, previously held by the state legislature, to a panel called the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. . . .