n African Journal of Psychiatry - Assessment of the needs of vulnerable youth populations in post-conflict Liberia : original

Volume 16, Issue 5
  • ISSN : 1994-8220



A rape victim may encounter professionals in both the health and the legal systems. Unanswered questions remain about clinical factors associated with a rape victimâ??s ability to testify in court, and the quality of care offered to rape victims. The objectives of this study were thus to determine the clinical factors that are associated with a rape victim's ability to testify in court, as well as to undertake a preliminary exploration of the referral system between the court and the mental health services.

A retrospective study was conducted of rape victims referred by the court (n=70) to be assessed psycho-legally by psychiatrists. Rape victims who were recommended as able and those recommended as unable to testify in court were compared with regard to their clinical characteristics.
Thirty-seven (53.6%) victims were recommended as able to testify and 32 (46.4%) victims as unable to testify in court. Victims from rural areas and victims with severe mental retardation were statistically significantly more often found to be unable to testify in court. Almost half (49.2%) of the victims were referred by court for first assessment within six months of being raped. Most (63.5%) victims were assessed for the first time within one month of being referred.
The decision about a victimâ??s ability to testify should not be based solely on the two statistically significant variables but, rather, individualised. Optimal mental health and legal services should be offered to rape victims. Further studies are required in assessing the collaboration between the health and legal systems.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error