In the years leading up to Detroit’s 2013 bankruptcy filing, as local leaders scrambled to keep a city afloat that couldn’t even afford street lights, thousands of rape kits somehow went untested, preventing countless rapists from being prosecuted. In 2009, 11,000 untested kits were found in a Detroit police storage unit. Two thousand of the kits have been tested since then by Detroit prosecutors, and now local leaders are turning to private donors and businesses to raise the funds to finish the testing and prevent future sexual violence. Of the 2,000 kits that were tested, a DNA match was found for 670 of them. These results have lead to the identification of 188 (!) serial rapists and the conviction of 15 of them. The other 9,000 kits remain nauseatingly untouched all these years later, despite how many women could be spared from future attacks if the results put repeat offenders behind bars — and despite the fact that those 9,000 victims who submitted the rape kits have yet to see any kind of justice. How many other murders, rapes and violent crimes have happened as a direct result of the city failing to do its job by testing the kits on time?
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A new study has found that many rape victims in the United States are paying medical bills for the aftermath of their assaults, despite the fact that the federal government has laws in place to prevent exactly that from happening. Federal law ensures that victims aren’t charged for rape kits, regardless of whether they report the attack to police. However, the real financial confusion starts when medical treatment is required beyond that initial exam.
The government-funded study was done by the Urban Institute in partnership with George Mason University and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Researchers took a look at sexual assault care providers and the organizations that pay for them, carrying out case studies in six states. Their research found that in most states, rape victims do receive free rape kits, but in many cases, healthcare administrators often accidentally billed victims. Keep reading »
I know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But the 10th month of the year is another time for reflection on an issue that doesn’t get quite the attention it deserves: Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Frisky has been re-posting some of our past content by our contributor Judy McGuire, a domestic abuse survivor, but we were pleased to see it’s being addressed on a national level, as well.
Today at the White House, Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama made remarks about violence against women, which I’ve transcribed a bit after the jump: Keep reading »
Feminist Germaine Greer has an unorthodox suggestion for how to deal with men who rape: Women should put their names online in a rapists’ registry. Speaking at a literary festival yesterday, Greer — who became famous 40 years ago when she published the seminal “second wave” feminist text The Female Eunuch — criticized the paltry number of men who go to prison for sexual assault. “I wish there were an online rapists’ register and that it was kept up to date,” Greer said. “Because we know the courts can’t get it right.” Keep reading »
We’re definitely in the DNA age, people. You only need to tune into the paternity-testing “The Maury Show” or a crime show marathon to know that. So it’s about time New York state gives its rape testing kits, which were first introduced in emergency rooms 20 years ago, a DNA upgrade. Today, state officials are slated to reveal the new kits, which also include instructions on collecting evidence from male victims and a training video narrated by Mariska Hargitay (because her role as a detective on “Law & Order: SVU” has made her an expert). Developers from St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals in NYC say they have learned what works and what doesn’t over the years and the new kit is more comprehensive. Now, the kits provide special envelopes and swabs to collect an attacker’s bodily fluids or other evidence left behind that might contain DNA. The kits also provide information for health professionals to deal with male victims, which is a good thing since the ratio of male sexual assault victims in New York is much higher than the national ratio of one in eight. [NY Post]
I have to say I’m slightly shocked the old rape kits weren’t this comprehensive. I thought the whole point of a rape kit was to collect DNA. Keep reading »