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Lawmakers for making DNA test mandatory in rape cases

Karachi: The legislators of Sindh unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday for making DNA test on government expense mandatory in rape cases so that survivors could be provided with justice.

Pakistan People’s Party’s Sharmila Faruqui moved the resolution on the issue that read: “This assembly resolves and recommends to the Sindh government to mandate the administration of DNA tests and preservation of DNA evidence in all rape cases in accordance with the judgement of the Supreme Court of Pakistan dated October 2 2012, in case No. 2013 of SCMR 203 – Salman Akram Raja and another versus the Punjab government through the chief secretary and others. The Sindh government should also bear the cost of the DNA test in all such rape cases where the victim is not in a financial position to do so.”

Those who spoke in favour of the resolution called for establishing a laboratory in Sindh, especially in Karachi, for DNA testing related to the investigation of criminal cases so that speedy dispensation of justice could be ensured instead of sending the DNA samples to laboratories in Lahore and Islamabad for testing.

When a sexual assault crime is committed, the offender’s DNA may be left on the survivor’s body or clothing or at the crime scene. An offender’s DNA can be obtained from many different sources, including his/her saliva, sweat, blood, semen, hair, and skin cells. DNA evidence from all of these sources can be critical to identification of the offender(s), proving various elements of a crime, and successful prosecutions.

When a sexual assault survivor has a forensic medical examination, the evidence collected from his/her body and/or clothing, which may include the offender’s DNA, is packaged in a sexual assault evidence kit (sometimes referred to as a “rape kit”). Additional evidence, such as body fluids left at the location of the crime (e.g., on bedding, furniture, or the rim of a drinking glass) may also be collected at the crime scene. The rape kit and the crime scene evidence samples are usually sent to a crime lab for analysis. If biological evidence is found, the crime lab attempts to obtain a DNA profile. If a profile is found, it can then be compared with a suspect’s DNA sample.

In the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault, the most important thing is for the survivor to get to a safe place. Whether it be the survivor’s home, a friend’s home or with a family member, immediate safety is what matters most. When a feeling of safety has been achieved, it is vital for the survivor to receive medical attention, and strongly recommended for the survivor to receive a forensic examination.

Preserving DNA evidence is a key tool for law enforcement’s investigation and prosecution of a sexual assault case.

Survivors should make every effort to save anything that might contain the perpetrator’s DNA. Therefore a survivor should not bathe or shower, use the restroom, change clothes, comb hair, clean up the crime scene, or move anything the offender may have touched.

Evidence on or inside the survivor’s body should be collected by a physician or sexual assault nurse examiner. DNA can be stored for years without risk of extensive degradation, even at room temperature.

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