Self-examination DNA swabs supporting investigations of sexual violence

Organisation: University of Leicester

Partners: Wangu Kanja Foundation, Regional Training Facility for the Prevention and Suppression of Sexual Violence – Great Lakes Region

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Type of grant: Core – recognition

Status: Ongoing

Sexual and gender-based violence is notoriously difficult to investigate and prosecute, particularly in humanitarian emergencies where medical facilities and trained staff are lacking. Our solution is to explore innovative self-examination DNA kits to improve access to justice for victims.


Investigation and prosecution of sexual and gender based violence in low-resource environments.


Our innovation is a self-examination forensic DNA kit, which could transform humanitarian and legal responses to SGBV by:

  • applying a forensic approach that is good practice elsewhere, but novel to the humanitarian context
  • allowing access to DNA evidence to corroborate witness statements and support prosecutions
  • being sensitive to cultural norms and safety concerns that deter women from seeking invasive medical examinations
  • enhancing security for medical staff who risk reprisal for documenting SGBV.

These features increase the impact of our innovation by improving the wellbeing and security of people in humanitarian crises.


The outcomes of this project will provide stakeholder and end-user views on the design and feasibility of our innovation. In particular, gathering the views of NGO and medical clinics as well as criminal justice agencies to inform the feasibility, design and legal requirements of our self-examination DNA kit, is essential to ensure the implementation and impact of the innovation.

This project will also enable us to explore how forensic DNA evidence can be used more effectively to support investigations and prosecutions of SGBV in humanitarian contexts, and how this enhances access to justice and empowers survivors.

Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110).

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