Lack of rape kit at Penticton Regional Hospital part of a national issue | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Lack of rape kit at Penticton Regional Hospital part of a national issue

A recent Penticton court case revealed Penticton Regional Hospital is one of many Canadian hospitals that may not be able to provide rape kits to victims of sexual assault.
February 21, 2021 - 8:00 AM

When a Penticton care aid was raped in her own home by a former boyfriend in 2018, she called police immediately. They arrived to find the aftermath, bloody towels and sheets, and arrested the man immediately. 

But when she went to Penticton Regional Hospital, expecting to be examined and have evidence collected, she got no help. In the trial that found David Webb guilty of aggravated sexual assault, among other charges, Justice Gary Weatherill heard they had no rape kits there. She had to get herself to Kelowna General Hospital, almost an hour away. 

Interior Health said in an email it couldn't speak about the specific case, but described the limitations.

"All Interior Health emergency departments offer medical and emotional care for sexual assault patients and many have evidence kits on site," Interior Health said in an email. "The ability of each site to perform a sexual assault forensic exam depends on the availability of staff who are trained to meet the forensic standards required for any legal follow-up.

"At Penticton Regional Hospital, if a nurse trained to perform a sexual assault forensic exam is not available, the patient is offered the option to be referred to Kelowna General Hospital where they have physicians available on-call to perform the exam. Evidence kits are available at PRH and additional kits are available from the RCMP if needed."

It appears there's no option to bring the service to the women in need.

The policy could mean a long drive under difficult emotional circumstances for women in the Similkameen and South Okanagan, but it seems the situation is not an isolated one.

A Toronto police services website describes a rape kit, or sexual evidence kit, as containing a specially sealed box that contains envelopes, bottles, and other containers used to collect evidence. For best results, rape victims are advised to keep the clothing worn during the sexual assault, try not to urinate before reaching the hospital and try not to shower or use a feminine douche product.

A recent report on CTV’s W5, “Untested Evidence" took a national look at the issue, and found 41 per cent of Canadian hospitals do not have rape kits on hand.

The report also noted it can take up to three hours to complete a sexual evidence examination.

CTV- W5's "Untested Evidence"

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to tips@infonews.ca and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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