Caring for Victims of Sexual Abuse
International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 91, pp. 194-199, 2005
6 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2006
Recognizing sexual abuse to be universal, in stable as well as disordered societies and directed predominantly but not only against younger women, this article first considers legal definitions of sexual abuse and the forensic evidence health care providers may be expected to gather. It explores the impact on victims of historic definitions of rape, and legal reforms to dispense with proof of sexual penetration. The WHO 2003 guidelines for medico-legal care for victims of sexual violence are noted, which emphasize the need for physical and psychological care of victims. The guidelines show that goals of treating victims and retaining forensic evidence can create a clinical dilemma. Ethical issues concern management of this dilemma, probing whether patients' psychological disturbance may have roots in past sexual abuse, and the conduct of appropriate research. It concludes that much sexual abuse is symptomatic of women's sexual subordination and disregard of their human rights.
Keywords: Sexual abuse, Rape, Violence against women, Abuse of adolescents, Assault, Forensic evidence, Medico-legal care
JEL Classification: K19, I18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation