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J Forensic Leg Med. 2007 Aug;14(6):368-73. Epub 2007 May 1.

Female victims of torture.

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Kris-och traumacentrum, Danderyd Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


Torture is common today and is practised in over 100 countries according to Amnesty International. A substantial number of refugees coming to Europe have been tortured including females. Documentation of physical injuries due to torture is done by forensic pathologists often in collaboration with psychiatrists. In Sweden, the majority of torture documentations is done by an organization (KTC) which have specialized in documenting torture, and in short-term therapy of refugees and other crime victims suffering from post-traumatic stress. From the KTC archives of 500 documented alleged torture victims, the records of 63 females were studied separately. Age, nationality, asylum motive, social situation, torture methods, number of injuries, and sequels to torture were among the variables studied. Female torture victims differed from their male counterparts studied previously in the following: (i) The most common reason for seeking asylum was persecution because of the political activity of their husbands or some other close relative. (ii) Rape often both anal and vaginal, several times, and by different persons, was reported by 76% of the women. Physical abuse by use of blunt force was alleged by 95% but (iii) other types of force and specific torture methods was reported infrequently. (iv) A high frequency of PTSD -- 87% was diagnosed.

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