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Sexual violence and rape in particular, is considered the most under-reported violent crime

BAHAMAS CRISIS CENTRE

Published: Oct 29, 2013

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Sexual violence and rape in particular, is considered the most under-reported violent crime. The rate of reporting, prosecution and convictions for rape varies considerably in different jurisdictions. The Bahamas is not immune in any form to the consequences and ravages of individuals being victims of sexual assault and rape.

Rape is a sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or against a person who is incapable of valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, or below the legal age of consent.

Rape occurs when a person forces another to have sexual intercourse against their will. Over half of all reported rapes occur between people who know each other. The common element shared by all is sexual victimization by someone unknown or known and often trusted. Offenders can be friends, neighbors, casual dates — anyone who coerces another into unwanted sexual contact.

People are raped at school, parties, dances, on dates, in dorms, in cars, at the beach, in their homes and in the homes of acquaintances. Victims can be all ages, children, teens and adults — they can be male or female, they can be single, married or newly single.

When part of a widespread and systematic practice, rape and sexual slavery are recognized as crimes against humanity and war crimes. Rape is also recognized as an element of the crime of genocide when committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a targeted ethnic group.

People who have been raped can be severely traumatized and may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, in addition to psychological harm resulting from the act. Rape may cause physical injury or have additional effects on the victim, such as acquiring of a sexually transmitted infection or becoming pregnant. Furthermore, following a rape, a victim may face violence or threats thereof from the rapist, and, in some cultures, from the victim's own family and relatives.

Rape is a crime

Rape is a crime. No one has the right to rape you or hurt you. You are not to blame. You are a victim and do not deserve to be raped.

What do you do if you have been raped

• Do not wash or bathe until you have been examined by a doctor.

• Keep any clothes that were worn during the rape for evidence. Do not wash them or throw them away.

• Call a close friend or relative to support you.

• Call the police.

• Go to hospital to get tested for STDs and pregnancy, get treated for any physical injuries and have evidence collected in case you decide to press charges.

If someone tells you they have been raped:

• Listen. What you say is not as important as your willingness to listen.

• Help remove feelings of guilt. Be sure your friend understands that he/she is not to blame, and that it is not his/her fault.

• Believe. One of the most hurtful things that can happen to a victim is not to be believed. Believe what your friend is telling you.

• Support. Lots of decisions have to be made — like whom to tell, what to do. Let your friend be in control of those decisions and support him/her.

• Show that you care. Just be there. Don’t reject your friend.

When you are reporting a rape:

Call the pollice: You can report rape by going to the closest police station. You can also report rape by telephoning the closest police station. If you are badly hurt, you should call an ambulance directly or the emergency number instead.

At the police station, you can ask to speak to a female police official. However, a woman may not always be available. You do not have to give all the details of what happened in the charge office when reporting the rape. After you have said that you want to report a rape, you should be taken to a private space such as an office, or to the trauma room, which is a more comfortable room that often also has trained volunteers to help you.

Making a statement: You need only give a brief statement of what happened and have the rape recorded in the occurrence book at the police station, before being taken to have a medical examination.

You should try to give a detailed description of the rapist and where you last saw him or her immediately so that the police can try to arrest him or her as soon as possible.

You only need to give a detailed statement of what happened during the rape after the medical examination, usually a day or so later, when you have had some time.

When you give your statement, you should give as much detail as possible about what happened, especially on whether the rapist threatened you and whether he was violent or if you think he knows where you live. This is important information that will help the court decide whether he should be granted bail or not, once he is arrested.

The medical examination

A doctor will do the medical examination, usually at a hospital. You can get a private doctor to do the examination, but they are often not trained in collecting forensic evidence and may not have the time to go to court. The doctor must also give you medication to prevent HIV/AIDS. You should not wash before the medical examination, as this may wash away evidence. You should also bring the clothes you were wearing at the time of the rape so that they can also be examined for evidence.

The trial

Unfortunately, it may take a very long time for your case to go to court for trial. If you have any complaints about how the police have dealt with your case, you should lodge a complaint. You can get help from any of the organizations that help survivors of sexual violence with preparing for the trial and with any other problems you may be experiencing.

On the day of trial, try to arrange with the prosecutor beforehand that you will arrive early and have a separate place to sit while waiting for the trial to start. The rapist and his supporters may make comments about you within earshot and try to intimidate you in other ways. If the court does not have a witness waiting room, ask the prosecutor to make another office available for you.

 

• For more information, check out our website at www.bahamascrisiscentre.org or contact us. Email us at bahamascrisiscentre@yahoo.com or call us at 328-0922.


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