#Superheroalert: Does your state bother to examine evidence for rape?
“Women shouldn’t have to hold a bake sale to get justice.”
Does your state actually test evidence after rape?
Did you know many states don’t fund rape kit testing? To translate that, some states don’t pay anyone to examine the evidence collected from rape victims’ bodies for years at a time. Missouri has a backlog of 5000 kits that haven’t been examined; in Texas, women are now crowdfunding rape kit testing. I’m all for crowdfunding, but this isn’t a park or an art fair we are talking about, this is CRIMINAL JUSTICE. This is the entire point of the government; this is what the government exists to pay for, even under the strictest libertarian definition of government.
Are we seriously paying for libraries and public schools and art fairs and monuments while we ignore actual crimes against women because we can’t bother to pay to test the evidence?
Do something about it.
Find out how your state does below, and then submit a letter to your representatives. Feel free to rip off mine.
Our state has 14,435 untested rape kits, and has enacted only modest reform to change this.
This means we have 14,435 women and men, mostly from low-income settings, still waiting for justice.
It is appalling that funding rape investigation is not our main priority. Even under the strictest libertarian definition of government, government exists to protect people from each other. When we have rapists going free because we can’t be bothered to make rape kit testing our priority, we as a state make the clear statement that we don’t give a damn about Florida women, who suffer the brunt of these gendered crimes. As a healthcare provider and a woman in the military, I am horrified to find that we are behind Missouri and even Texas.
Are we seriously paying for libraries and public schools and art fairs and monuments while we ignore horrific violence because we can’t bother to pay to test the evidence?
Do something about it.
Jen Finelli Veldhuyzen, MD
To read more about the issue, follow @FeministsforLife on Twitter, and read their update about it here:
Rape kits are an essential tool to ensure justice for survivors of sexual assault. Years ago, it became a hot topic during a presidential election, only to find out that this was a widespread problem. When FFL President Serrin Foster looked into it, insurance brokers told her it was the norm. But there appeared to be a push for change.
So you can imagine our shock and disgust that some states STILL appear to treat rape kits as a second-tier priority.
In Texas, rape kits areactually being crowdfunded by allowing Texans to donate to a state account when they renew their driver’s licenses. Texas has a backlog of more than 3,500 untested rape kits, and each kit costs between $500 and $2,000 to test.
“It’s great that people are donating in Texas to get rape kits tested, but it shouldn’t be up to crowdfunding or donations during driver’s license renewals. This isn’t about funding a community park. This is rape,” Foster said. “And victims of serious crimes deserve to have the evidence tested and kept until the perpetrator is arrested.”
Meanwhile, in Missouri, a backlog over nearly 5,000 rape kits finally promptedpassage of a law creating guidelines for testing, processing, and storing rape kits.
The state attorney general found that approximately one-third of law-enforcement agencies destroyed evidence before the Department of Justice-recommended period of 20 years.
“If they aren’t going to do anything with the evidence, what is the point of having a rape victim suffer through a humiliating, invasive procedure, including photographic evidence in front of a police officer as well as medical staff?” Foster asked. “And can you imagine the frustration of the police officer who does everything possible to help ID the perpetrator, only to let the evidence go unexamined or destroyed, knowing the rapist could go on to assault others?”
FFL Speaker and rape survivor Joyce McCauley-Benner also shares Foster’s outrage:
“Words fail me,” McCauley-Benner said upon learning that some hospitals don’t know how long to retain a rape kit after testing or even where to send it.
“This sends a message that victims are meaningless and not a priority. And we wonder why many victims see no point in coming forward. It’s not taken seriously, and I think it’s even more cruel to do the rape kit itself and then just let it sit or destroy it. You make her relive the horror then, in effect, say, ‘Sorry, never mind. We won’t get to that anyway.'”
McCauley-Benner finds crowdsourcing equally appalling: “Asking for donations is used for unique situations beyond one’s control, NOT for evidence in criminal justice cases. Women shouldn’t have to hold a bake sale to get justice,” McCauley-Benner concluded. “We really deserve better than that!”
According to End the Backlog, there are likely hundreds of thousands of rape kits nationwide that have yet to be tested, and over 225,000 untested rape kits have been uncovered thus far.
“THIS is criminal,” Foster said.
End the Backlog is a program of the Joyful Heart Foundation, the national nonprofit organization founded by actor and activist Mariska Hargitay.
P.S. “reCLAIM YOUR VOICE,” FFL’s timely issue exploring the #MeToo movement using our unique pro-woman, pro-life voice, comes with membership. Join or rejoin us now if your support has lapsed ($35 minimum/$25 for student).
Other evergreen theme-based back issues of The American Feminist® are also available atwww.feministsforlife.org/covetable-stuff, including “Forward Into Light,” “A Crying Shame,” “Voices of Women — and Men — Who Mourn,” and “MANIPULATION.” Feminists for Life was the only pro-life group in the National Task Force on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence to work successfully for the Violence Against Women Act (as well as the only feminist group to support the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, aka Laci and Conner’s Law). Among other essential measures, VAWA introduced the federal rape shield law and also funded victim assistance services, including rape crisis centers and hotlines.