The J-88 form: a crucial part of a rape prosecution

“Rape has become a part of the collective female consciousness in SA. Women are formally taught how to handle it and informally taught to expect it,” wrote Lisa Golden in October last year, for the Wits Journalism Joburg Justice website.

Last Friday night, Bredasdorp teenager Anene Booysen, was gang raped and brutally murdered. Booysen’s stomach had been cut open, and her entrails strewn around her body.
The gruesome details of Booysen’s murder has thrown the case into the public spotlight, and prompted a national dialogue about rape.

The three men who allegedly raped Booysen will appear in court next week. A crucial part of a successful prosecution in a case of this kind is the J-88 form.

This six-page form details all physical injuries sustained during an attack. It should be completed by a forensic nurse or medical doctor. The form should include a comprehensive questionnaire of the victim’s sexual history and the details of a genital examination. Despite their sensitisation to sexual assault and rape, few women in South Africa  are aware of the importance of these six pieces of paper in the prosecution of alleged rapists.

This form is filled out along with the better-known forensic rape kit, which gathers all forensic evidence from the victim such as semen, skin cells or hair.

“The nature of rape means that there are often no witnesses to the crime, leaving only the victim and the accused to give their testimony,” said Golden.

“The J-88 form can become an important part of achieving a successful conviction if filled out properly, and the evidence it provides can be enough to prove beyond reasonable doubt that an accused is guilty of rape.”

The video above details the key aspects of the J-88 form and shows how the required information should be recorded correctly. Read the full story here.