PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department has provided 270 Sexual Offense Evidence Collection Kits (SOECKs) to relevant officers in five districts of the province to improve evidence collection in sexual assault cases.

A statement issued here on Wednesday said that the districts having been provided with these kits were Peshawar, Mardan, Charsadda, Nowshera and Swabi.

It said that these kits would aid quality evidence collection and sensitive medical examination of the victims and alleged offenders in cases of serious sexual violence.

The statement said that this would help in reducing acquittals in such crimes, as set out in the KP government’s Rule of Law Roadmap, and help victims get justice. This initiative is part of interventions designed to deliver change in acquittal rates for such serious crimes.

This is a much-needed development in light of increasing rates of sexual crimes being reported from across the country, but with low conviction rates for such cases. Poor collection of medico-legal evidence from victims and offenders can reasonably be argued to have been contributing to these low conviction rates, the statement said.

Swift operation of this initiative is evident through the provision of 3,500 SOECKs, with the United Kingdom support to the department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology at the Khyber Medical College.

The secretary health has directed the department to disseminate the SOPs and SOECKs in all hospitals and medico-legal institutions without delay.

In the initial phase, training workshops covering proper usage of the kits have been arranged. The facility would be extended across all districts and merged districts in the next phase, the statement concluded.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2019