While going through the crisis intervention training to become a rape crisis counselor, we heard a lot of unfortunate facts and stories that illustrate how little is done/can be done to prosecute a rapist.
One step a survivor can take, if they choose is to undergo an entire body evidence collection, otherwise known as a rape kit. This is a decision that only the survivor can make, although hospitals and police officers often don’t know this, or will push the survivor to do it. But it’s ultimately up to the survivor. While rape kits are important for identifying and catching the perpetrator, sometimes survivors will decline. A huge reason for this is because rape kits are invasive and can often be re-traumatizing. They also may not want to press charges.
However, for the women that agree to a rape kit and go through with the invasive exam, many have been disappointed. There are an estimated 400,000 rape kits currently backlogged in the US. This means they haven’t been touched or investigated whatsoever. That’s 400,000 survivors that underwent this collection for nothing. On top of that, this article states:
In countless cases, lawmakers complain, by the time kits are tested the statute of limitations has passed and the rapists can no longer be charged.
But good news! The SAFER Act (Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry) was introduced in the US House of Representatives! At a press conference yesterday, Scott Berkowitz, President of RAINN said:
“The SAFER Act is the vital next step in our efforts to eliminate the backlog of untested DNA evidence. It will not cost any additional money — it reallocates existing spending — and it will lead to testing more DNA evidence and taking more rapists off our streets”
Yay!! This is great news for everybody, but specifically survivors. However, it hasn’t been passed yet. So please go to RAINN‘s page to get info on calling or writing your U.S Representative and Senators to tell them how important the SAFER Act is and to urge them to cosponsor it.