Why get medical attention
· To prevent infection from any injuries, and to issue medication to prevent HIV transmission and Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) transmission
· To prevent possible pregnancy
· To collect evidence
Reporting the rape to the police can be scary for both women and men. It is a good idea to go to a health facility first to get your injuries treated, and to get Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV transmission. The sooner a doctor examines you, the sooner they will be able to find proof of the rape (for example hair, skin cells, and semen from the alleged rapist).
You also have the option of going straight to police station first. See Part 3 of the series for more information.
If you are at a health care centre and want to report
· If possible, call a friend or family member to come and be with you whilst waiting to be examined and afterwards. Ask if they can bring some spare clean clothes for you.
· The health care worker can call a police officer to come to the health facility. If you decide to report, at the health facility they will also collect forensic evidence from your body. It is your right to ask questions, and to be treated with respect.
· If you need to go to the bathroom or are having your period, keep any toilet paper, sanitary towels, or tampons as they may contain evidence. These should be placed in an envelope or paper packet when dry.
· If you think you have been drugged, tell the health care worker and s/he will test your urine and blood for evidence.
· If you have eaten or drunk anything after the rape, tell the doctor so that s/he is aware of this when you are examined. If you were not raped orally, tell the doctor so that you can take medication against infection.
The forensic examination
· At the health care facility the doctor (district surgeon) will conduct what is known as the forensic examination. This examination is for the purpose of looking for evidence of the rape on your body including in your hair, and genital and anal regions. The doctor should inform you of what they are going to do to you.
· The doctor will ask you about your medical history, and about what happened during the rape.
· Your clothes will also be taken from you in order to collect evidence from them as well. It is important that if you have taken off your clothes that you have put them in a paper bag, or wrapped them in newspaper.
· After the examination you will have the opportunity to bath or shower, brush your teeth, and eat something. If the police officer has come to the health facility, s/he will ask you questions ideally in a private room.
After you have visited the health facility it is important to listen to information about when you should return for a check up, and to collect more PEP medication if you are HIV negative.
Click here for Part 1 and Part 3 of this series.