Caring for Victims of Sexual Abuse

International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 91, pp. 194-199, 2005

6 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2006

See all articles by Rebecca J. Cook

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Bernard Dickens

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Shyam Thapa

Family Health International

Abstract

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

Cook, Rebecca J. and Dickens, Bernard and Thapa, Shyam, Caring for Victims of Sexual Abuse. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 91, pp. 194-199, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=944116

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 Queen's Park Cr.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4446 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

Bernard Dickens (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4849 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

Shyam Thapa

Family Health International ( email )

2101 Wilson Boulevard
Suite 700
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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