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PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e28620. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028620. Epub 2011 Dec 14.

Forensic medicine in South Africa: associations between medical practice and legal case progression and outcomes in female murders.

Author information

1
Gender and Health Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa. nabraham@mrc.ac.za

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Forensic medicine has been largely by-passed by the tide of health systems research and evidence based medicine. Murder victims form a central part of forensic medical examiners' case load, and women murdered by intimate partners are an important subgroup, representing the most severe form and consequence of intimate partner violence. Our aim was to describe the epidemiology of female murder in South Africa (by intimate and non-intimate partners); and to describe and compare autopsy findings, forensic medical management of cases and the contribution of these to legal outcomes.

METHODS:

We did a retrospective national study in a proportionate random sample of 25 medico-legal laboratories to identify all homicides in 1999 of women aged 14 years and over. Data were abstracted from the mortuary file and autopsy report, and collected from a police interview.

FINDINGS:

In 21.5% of cases the perpetrator was convicted. Factors associated with a conviction for the female murders included having a history of intimate partner violence 1.18 (95%CI: 0.16-2.20), weapon recovered 1.36 (95% CI:0.58-2.15) and a detective visiting the crime scene 1.57 (95% CI:0.14-3.00). None of the forensic medical activities increased the likelihood of a conviction.

CONCLUSION:

The findings raise important questions about the role of forensic medicine in these cases.

PMID:
22194868
PMCID:
PMC3237462
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0028620
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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