New App Helps Doctors Document Sexual Assault in War Zones

MediCapt is an app that helps doctors document post-sexual assault examinations in order to better prosecute cases.
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MediCapt is an app that helps doctors document post-sexual assault examinations in order to better prosecute cases.
physicians for human rights

Photo Credit: Physicians for Human Rights

A new app is currently being tested to help doctors better document injuries suffered during sexual assaults to help in the prosecution process. Called MediCapt, the app is currently being tested in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

The app was developed by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) to give doctors the ability to photograph injuries suffered by sexual assault victims, and submit medical exams to a database. Law enforcement officials can access this information and use it to for prosecution. This is especially helpful in Congo, as there are hundreds of thousands of sexual assault cases there. 

According to a report from the United Nations, several dozen women are sexually assaulted every hour in the Congo. Many of these cases go without any prosecution, as many victims don't even speak out. Those that do are sometimes re-attacked or even shunned by their communities. For the women that do speak out, it is hard to prove their case because of the lack of evidence. There isn't much collaboration between law officials and medical examiners, which leads to cases getting stalled in court.

“What was most useful was introducing clinicians to the promise and power of technology as a means for gathering evidence and prosecuting these crimes,” said Karen Naimer, director of PHR's Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones. “Some of them had never even held a smartphone before, but by the end of the first day everyone was engaged in the idea of the power this technology could bring.”

Naimer adds that MediCapt could eventually be used to prosecute human rights violators in war crime cases. While the app is still in development, PHR hopes to expand its reach beyond Congo.