When I qualified in 1987, I was appalled to learn that the vast majority of the on-call forensic medical examiners who examined women subjected to serious sexual assault and rape in the Metropolitan Police area were men. I was subsequently involved in the establishment of an on-call rota of women doctors who were prepared to examine victims of sexual violence. Nowadays, services deliver holistic non-judgemental intervention, particularly in sexual assault centres. These centres are specialist services providing 24-h forensic examinations, other medical and psychological services and aftercare in a secure and sensitive setting (Lovett et al, 2004; Kelly et al, 2008). This model is now being extended.