The Global SAK (Sexual Assault Kit) Donation Project is a joint collaboration between DNAforAfrica, a Texas Hospital, a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) in the USA, international human rights NGOs, survivor advocates, rape crisis centres and FSL's in Africa as well as a UK-based criminologist researching the impact of DNA evidence on the justice system.
This incredible project has gained global recognition in its efforts to help low resource environments in Africa gain access to sterile DNA swabs, drying boxes and tamper-proof evidence bags required for the minimum standard of evidence collection from sexual offence cases, while maintaining the preservation and chain of custody of evidence
HOW IT ALL STARTED
COLLABORATION IN ACTION:
THE STORY BEHIND THE GLOBAL SAK DONATION PROJECT
Sister Jennifer Degner, a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) from Texas, has played a crucial role in initiating the "Global SAK Donation Project". Jennifer fisrt met Vanessa Lynch, director of DNAforAfrica, during an online Covid Zoom meeting, and the two quickly bonded over the challenges they faced in their respective environments, including the shortage of SAK's (Sexual Assault Kit) in Africa.
Following that meeting Jennifer professed to throwing away hundreds of perfectly good unused items from their 'Texas 100' SAK - destined for landfill. How could we get these to Africa, where the need was so great, she asked Vanessa?
Within weeks, Vanessa had rallied a team together, and thus began the Global SAK Donation project: spanning three different continents, they devised a plan to stockpile the sealed, unused SAK items, get them across to Africa and distribute these precious items to rape crisis centres, whereafter specialised forensic nurses and doctors would oversee proper collection of samples and the relevant FSL would analyse and track the quality of these samples at their DNA lab. This would all be monitored and documented by Prof. Lisa Smith, a Criminologist at Leicester University (the home of forensic DNA profiling) as part of a research study examining the impact of quality DNA samples on the justice system and survivor confidence.
Says Jennifer Degner, SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner), based in Texas: "My vision is to see the Global SAK Donation Project become successful, so that many more can have access to quality evidence collection and Forensic Nursing care. It is my hope that this program, with increased donations, will grow to include more areas in Africa. I look forward to being able to advocate for Survivors and Forensic Nurses on a larger scale throughout the United States and Africa, and sharing my knowledge and experience with more organisations.
The first shipment of SAK items successfully arrived in Lusaka, Zambia, with Innocent Makasa, Technical Director of Quality Assurance at the National Forensic Science and Biometrics Department in Zambia, leading this part of the project.
The ongoing partnership demonstrates the strength that comes from working together, showing the potential to make a significant impact on the availability of quality evidence collection and Forensic Nursing care for survivors of sexual assault. The project's progress will continue to be followed, showcasing the power of global collaboration.
FOLLOW ALL NEWS OF
THE GLOBAL SAK DONATION PROJECT
THESE ARE OUR KEY ROLEPLAYERS
This global project highlights the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to enhancing justice with DNA evidence:
Understanding the role and impact of forensic evidence in the criminal justice system, how it can transform responses to crime, enhance confidence in the process, and act as a deterrent to future offending.
Understanding the survivor journey and the challenges they face in accessing justice.
Ensuring that innovation is fit for purpose and implemented effectively.
Understanding of the legal framework for DNA evidence, databases, and the role of evidence in the prosecution and defence of cases.