Washington DC police failed in response to sexual assault cases, report finds
- Year: 2013
- Length: 2:40 minutes (2.45 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)
As sexual assault and rape continues to affect millions of people across the globe, a new report finds police in the nation’s Capital are failing to investigate these crimes. Human Rights Watch spent three years interviewing survivors, hospital staff and counselors in Washington, DC as well as analyzing police and hospital records. The group found that an estimated 40 percent of sexual assault reports at one hospital were not “documented or properly investigated.” Sarah Darehshori is one of the report’s authors.
“One of our overall concerns was that, prior to our notifying the department of our findings, sexually assault unit detectives received no training in sexual assault cases before they joined the sexual assault unit. There are no—the entire detective training program only included some training on the definition of sex abuse in DC. There was no systematic training for the um, people on the ground, the patrol officers on assaults. No training on trauma interviewing techniques. Basically, all the training was on the job.”
Sexual assault survivors told Human Rights Watch they felt the police were skeptical of their accounts, creating an environment where they didn’t feel safe to share details of the crime.
“I started to feel like a victim because of my interactions with police. They didn’t believe me, they made me feel ashamed for questioning them. They—they made me question myself and what happened. How—they made me feel like I was making something up, when all I was trying to do was tell them what happened so it could be reported accurately so that it wouldn’t happen again.”
Human Rights Watch is calling on the department to acknowledge the past problems and hold those involved accountable. The group’s Darehshori says she’d also like to see the creation of an external review process for the department’s sexual assault unit, which she says has worked well in Philadelphia and other cities. The DC Metropolitan Police department criticized the report, saying it used “flawed methodology” and “makes sweeping allegations that are not backed by facts.” Human rights advocates are also calling on Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act after it failed to do so last month. The act, which expired in 2011, funds community and law enforcement programs to help sexual assault survivors.