EViDENCE Kits: Empowering Victims with DNA from Novel Collection and Examination Kits

Worldwide, sexual violence is systematically used as a weapon of war resulting in the victimisation of women, children and men. These crimes are notoriously difficult to document and investigate, and perpetrators are rarely brought to justice. One of the main barriers to prosecution is a lack of physical evidence linking individuals to these crimes. DNA analysis is a well-established technique for identifying perpetrators in sexual violence cases, but this technology is not currently utilised in most conflict regions and displaced communities.

In order to make DNA evidence available in these complex cases, innovative recovery techniques need to be developed and tested in order to overcome difficulties and provide access to justice for victims.  One of the main barriers to the use of forensic DNA is a lack of access to medical facilities, where a sexual assault forensic examination would usually be conducted by a medical professional.  Therefore, the aim of this research project is to test the feasibility of existing DNA recovery products to be used by individuals to ‘self-sample’ without the need for access to a medical facility or trained professional. The project was initially funded by a University of Leicester Prospects Fund Award to Prof Lisa Smith, Dr Jon Wetton and Prof Mark Jobling, and supported Gurdeep Matharu Lall as a Research Technician. Subsequently, support came from a Humanitarian Innovation Fund (ELRHA) Innovations award, and in 2019 by a generous philanthropic donation from the Lindau Foundation.

Read our article on this project in The Conversation.



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