The Department of Justice has issued new national guidelines for medical exams for rape victims.
The new guidelines place a strong emphasis on that the victim’s “physical and emotional needs should take precedence over criminal justice considerations.”
Attorney General Eric announced the new protocol. H. Holder Jr. at an award ceremony for crime victims in Washington on Wednesday.
The practices, which were last updated in 2004, mentioned in the guidelines will be mandatory in federal prisons and the military but are voluntary for all states. According to the New York Times, there is no established protocol that health care officials, police and prosecutors follow in all states in response to sexual assault.
The new guidelines, issued this week, recommend that victims be offered emergency contraception or information on how to get it.
The Department of Justice also advises that “voluntary drug and or alcohol use should not diminish the perceived seriousness of the assault.”
“Research shows that once victims get support, they’re more likely to cooperate with the criminal justice system,” Bea Hanson, acting director of the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women said to the New York Times.
The guidelines state that many victims of sexual assault want to report the rape to authorities but often times hesitate to do so. The guidelines encourage some victims to have a forensic medical examination since the evidence can be used later on.
Sgt. Jim Markey, a former sex crimes investigator for the Phoenix Police Department, said the new guidelines were “long overdue.”
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