Scientists have created a self-testing DNA swab that could make it much easier to prosecute the perpetrators of sexual violence in poor and war-torn countries where victims typically have poor access to forensic tools.
The new swab will allow victims to recover genetic evidence following a sexual assault, without the need for access to proper medical care or forensic examinations. This will enable victims to test themselves for the first time.
Technique Will Help in the Developing World
Researchers from the University of Leicester developed this technique to collect DNA evidence from victims of sexual violence in countries where access to forensic tests is limited, such as conflict zones, developing countries, and displaced communities, including refugee camps.
It is hoped that the swab will offer access to forensic evidence for millions of women worldwide, providing victims with access to justice that may otherwise be unavailable.
The Scale of the Problem
“Globally millions of women, men, and children are victims of sexual violence and these crimes have devastating impacts on individuals, families, and communities,” said Dr Smith. “We hope that this research will help to raise awareness of the issue of sexual violence against vulnerable people in developing countries, conflict and post-conflict settings, and displaced communities, and encourage international organisations to engage with innovative ways to use forensic science to give victims of sexual violence access to justice around the world,” she added.
Widespread Issue for Accountability
Sexual violence has devastating impacts on millions of victims worldwide, and is notoriously difficult to investigate and prosecute. In poor and war-torn countries, victims are often unable to access justice and perpetrators are not identified and held accountable, commonly due to a lack of physical evidence to support prosecutions. It is hoped that self-examination evidence recovery kits will be available for field testing and distribution in high-risk areas in 2018.
By Tom Bawden -September 5th 2017