How sexual violence in conflict can be combatted through new forensic DNA collecting methods

Dr Lisa Smith (pictured) from the Department of Criminology has launched a new project to investigate alternative ways of collecting DNA evidence from victims of sexual violence in conflict zones and displaced communities, including refugee camps.

The project will explore new methods for collecting forensic DNA evidence in cases of sexual violence for use in regions where victims do not have access to medical facilities in order to provide victims with access to justice that may otherwise be unavailable.

The research is being launched before representatives from the UN and Education Secretary Nicky Morgan at the UN’s HeForShe’s First-Ever #GetFree Tour on Tuesday 29 September.

Dr Smith said: “I hope that this sort of research will help to raise awareness of the issue of sexual violence against vulnerable people in circumstances such as armed conflict and displaced communities, and encourage international organisations to seek innovative ways to use forensic science to give victims of sexual violence access to justice around the world.”

The first phase of the project, which is supported by the University Prospects Fund, involves researchers from the Departments of Criminology and Genetics collaborating with Thermo Fisher Scientific to test a variety of alternative DNA recovery techniques in order to determine their suitability for use on the ground in challenging circumstances, in order to overcome technical and cultural barriers which currently exist in remote regions.

In this video, members of the University’s community discuss their experiences of being treated differently because of their gender, explain why movements like HeForShe are important in helping to achieve gender equality and describe their hopes for the future:

 

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