Ending the rape kit backlog will identify thousands of unknown rapists, prevent more sexual assaults and provide healing and justice for victims.
Hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits, collected during four to six-hour examinations of rape victims’ bodies, have been sitting on shelves collecting dust in police departments and crime lab storage facilities for years across the U.S.
Rape kits have not been tested for three main reasons:
- Lack of funding – each kit costs between $1,000-$1,500 to test
- Lack of manpower – more personnel are needed to ship and transport untested kits to crime labs
- Detectives’ discretion – many detectives and police departments don’t prioritize sexual assaults high enough and only request processing if the perpetrator is known and they are likely to get a conviction.
Testing the DNA in those kits will reveal the names of thousands of unknown assailants and confirm the presence of known suspects. The kits can also confirm the accounts of victims, connect suspects to other crimes, exonerate innocent suspects and prevent countless more sexual assaults.
Nearly $80 million worth of grants were authorized in 11 states in 2015, but tens of thousands of additional rape kits must still be tested. To see how many untested rape kits are in your state, click on: http://endthebacklog.org/
National studies have shown that cases in which a rape kit was collected, tested and contained DNA evidence are more likely to result in arrests and prosecutions.
For example, when New York City eliminated its rape kit backlog, its arrest rate for rape jumped from 40 to 70 percent! In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, testing 4,347 rape kits is estimated to have saved the community $38.7 million.
Not testing rape kits sends the message to survivors that their cases don’t matter. It also sends the message to perpetrators that they can escape punishment for rape. Testing kits demonstrates a commitment to survivors to do everything possible to help them find justice and healing.
Lillian Smith supports the End the Backlog campaign and urges federal, state and local government officials to fund and direct police and crime labs to process the kits immediately.
Stand with Lillian Smith and help end the rape kit backlog:
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Former Vice Pres. Joe Biden is right. “It’s on all of us” to intervene, speak up and change the rape culture.
“If a woman is dead drunk, she cannot give consent. You are raping her.” When men hear so-called locker-room talk, “Speak up! Turn and say, ‘You’re a horse’s butt,’ only a little more graphic!”
Sexual violence affects millions of Americans – especially young women on college campuses. One in five college women will be sexually assaulted before they graduate, according to several studies.
Speaking at George Mason University
On average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the U.S.1 One in every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed, 2.8% attempted).4
Nine out of every ten rape victims are female. Fifty-five percent were sleeping or performing another activity in or near the victim’s home.
The rate of sexual assault and rape has fallen 63 percent since 1993, from a rate of 4.3 assaults per 1,000 people in 1993, to 1.6 per 1000 in 2015.1
It refers to sexual activity when consent is not obtained or not given freely by the victim. Anyone can experience sexual abuse but most victims are female. The person responsible for the violence is typically male and usually someone known to the victim. The person can be, but is not limited to, a friend, coworker, neighbor, or family member.
Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 59 men in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives.4
An estimated 20% to 25% of college women in the United States were victims of attempted or completed rape during their college career2 and 5.2% in the past year.3
These numbers underestimate the problem.4 Many cases are not reported because victims are afraid to tell the police, friends, or family about the violence. Victims also think that their stories of abuse will not be believed and that police cannot help them. They may be ashamed or embarrassed. Victims may also keep quiet because they have been threatened with further harm if they tell anyone.
Sexual violence can negatively impact health in many ways. Some e ects can lead to long-term health problems. These include but are not limited to chronic pain, headaches, stomach problems, and sexually transmitted diseases.
Sexual violence can have emotional impacts as well. Victims often are fearful and anxious. They may replay the attack over and over in their minds. They may have problems with trust and be wary of becoming involved with others. The anger and stress that victims feel may lead to eating disorders and depression. Some even think about or attempt suicide.
Sexual violence is also linked to negative health behaviors. For example, victims are more likely to smoke, abuse alcohol, use drugs, and engage in risky sexual activity.5