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Ministries of Home Affairs and Health collaborate with UNDP for Management of Sexual Assault Examination Training

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2024. 8:46 am CST.

By Zoila Palma Gonzalez: As part of the European Union-funded PACE Justice project, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Ministry of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries, and the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW), over 25 medical practitioners including personnel from the Belize Defence Force (BDF) and the Belize Police Department participated in a 3-day training on the management of sexual assault examination.

According to the Belize Crime Observatory (BCO), there has been a 5% increase in major crimes in Belize including rape, which has increased in reports by 41.7% in 2023 with 98.8% of sexual violence victims being women.

As the first-of-its-kind training course, the course was a reminder of the importance of prioritizing initiatives that create tangible change.

Throughout the three-day session, the participants covered the multifaceted aspects of trauma-informed sexual assault case management, including the survivor’s perspective, patient intake and history, forensic examination, use of the sexual assault evidence collection kit, after-care, interpreting findings, report writing, and courtroom testimony.

The Ministry noted that participants explored trauma-informed approaches that prioritize survivors’ autonomy, dignity, and emotional safety, and discussed scenarios of drug-facilitated sexual assault as well as sexual assault in the elderly and mentally ill.

A total of 26 medical practitioners from across the country, including internists, pathologists and other medical officers employed by the MOHW, Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, BDF and the National Forensic Science Service, participated in the training.

A portion of the agenda also involved participation by investigators from the Domestic Violence Unit of the Belize Police Department.

Upon completion of the course, participants received course completion certificates as trained personnel in the management of sexual assault.

 

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