24 October 2016
Activists Chiu Ying-yan and Linda Wong (inset) say police officers need sensitization training on issues related to rape victims. Photos: HKEJ, Apple Daily
Activists Chiu Ying-yan and Linda Wong (inset) say police officers need sensitization training on issues related to rape victims. Photos: HKEJ, Apple Daily

Police urged to be more sensitive in dealing with rape victims

A women’s welfare group has urged the Hong Kong police to be more sensitive in handling victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence.

Police officers often fail to take enough care to protect the victims’ privacy and dignity, the group said, citing the terrible experience a 20-year-old rape victim underwent in the recent past.

According to the Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women (ACSVAW), the victim went to a police station to lodge a rape compliant against her former boyfriend.

When Queenie (name changed) went to record her statement, she was not offered full privacy, as the doors of the cabin were kept open by the police officers.

The victim had some anxious moments as her ex-boyfriend, who was also called by the police, was within sight. 

Five hours later, she was referred to a police station nearer to the location of the reported crime, where she had to record a statement all over again.

After she gave her statement, she was made to wait in a room for about six hours, according to ACSVAW, an organization that aims to raise awareness about sexual violence against women.

Queenie was quoted as saying that the police officers were rude in their questioning. One officer apparently asked her why she was trying to “frame” someone when she couldn’t recall exact details.

Officers from both police stations had not arranged physical examinations for her. Queenie had to wait a long time without taking any food or drink to avoid going to the toilet.

She had to skip the toilet so that she could preserve the evidence of the crime during medical tests. 

It was only after 14 hours that the police finally arranged for a physical examination at a hospital.

Queenie also said she was not informed immediately that she can seek help from a social worker.

It was only when a female police officer asked: “You wouldn’t need a social worker, would you?”, that she became aware of her rights.

When Queenie replied that she wants a social worker, the police officer was said to have remarked: “What? You want one?”

When a social worker finally arrived at the station, the police however did not allow the worker to accompany Queenie to the hospital.

According to ACSVAW activist Chiu Ying-yan, Queenie was trembling after her experience at the police stations, and that she had nightmares for many days after the trauma.

Linda Wong Sau-yung, another volunteer with the same group, said rape victims should receive medical examination within 72 hours of the incident in order to avoid getting pregnant or contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

ACSVAW says that there were 41 rape cases reported to the police in the first six months of 2015, a jump of 86.4 percent over the same period last year.

A police spokesman, meanwhile, said that all frontline officers took part in a training exercise this year on issues related to handling victims of sexual violence.

Statements and physical examinations of victims are normally conducted at public hospitals, the spokesman said.

Anyone who feels that they were not treated well by the police could file complaints with the Complaints Against Police Office.

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