Open Access

DNA fingerprinting and the right to inviolability of the body and bodily integrity in the Netherlands: convincing evidence and proliferating body parts

  • Victor Toom
Genomics, Society and Policy20062:64

Published: 15 December 2006


The paper uses insights from the so-called rape in disguise case study to describe forensic DNA practices in the Netherlands in late 1980s. It describes how "reliabilities" of forensic DNA practices were achieved. One such reliability - convincing evidence - proliferates body parts through time and space. Then, attention shifts to the individual who was suspected of having committed the rape. He was asked to deliver tissue for DNA typing, but refused to do so. Hence DNA typing could not be used to connect the suspect to a cervical smear collected from the body of the victim. His refusal and the legal impossibility to use force to obtain his biological material led first to questions in the Dutch parliament and then to the Dutch forensic DNA law. Other legal measures enacted after this are also described. I argue that, by means of the various Dutch forensic DNA laws and new forensic genetic techniques, the application of forensic DNA practices have shifted from identification and evidence to a tool for criminal investigation and prevention of future crimes. In the final part of the paper, the right to inviolability of the body and its synonym bodily integrity are emphasised. I argue that despite the various forensic DNA laws, bodily integrity of obtained tissue for DNA typing is still at stake as the result of convincing evidence.


Crime SceneCriminal InvestigationLegal ConceptBodily IntegrityCervical Smear