Saturday, October 4, 2014

Rape Kits and a Lawful Society

We start with a few propositions in a lawful society, the most important perhaps that we agree to act under certain rules which cover our business and interactions with others.

We deem safety of individuals paramount and thus set up rules criminalizing actions which injure others.

Few actions can injure as much as rape.

Rape violates the very personhood of an individual, man and woman, and reduces the victim to less than human, a thing with no control of one's very self, in essence a slave to the whims and actions of another.  Any just society would consider that among the most reprehensible of actions deemed as criminal and thus subject to removal from a lawful society.

A just society than would investigate and punish accusations of rape.  One of the main tools in a rape investigations has collection of of DNA evidence, generally called a "rape kit."  Such collecting happens in a clinical setting and certainly also feels intrusive to the victim.

Think about telling a rape victim that a large percentage of rape kits collected have yet to get tested.  They certainly would fail to find our society just.

"To me, the rape kit backlog is one of the clearest and most shocking demonstrations of how we regard sexual assault in our society," [actress Mariska] Hargitay said in a statement. "A rape kit can bring justice, so often an integral part of a survivor's healing. Testing rape kits sends a fundamental and crucial message to victims of sexual violence: You matter." (emphasis added)
For instance in Las Vegas. only 16% of rape kits have gotten tested.  Sixteen per cent!  That only marks the most egregious example of the shocking pattern of neglect shown across this country, proving to some that we live in a patriarchal society where the aspirations and very lives of women matter little.

In Tennessee, 9000 kits remain untested, which actually makes an improvement, as reported in the Washington Post.  Of attacks in Seattle, Washington, authorities only managed to get 22% tested, also Wisconsin has 5951 kits untested.

Across the country, estimates put the number of untested kits at over 100,000, "some held for over decades."  That it fell to a private citizen, Hargitay, to bring attention to the widespread lack of testing of rape kits, remains unconscionable, especially view of the grave effects for survivors.

By accident, Hargitay got a role in a television crime drama often dealing with the crime of rape.  As she went on public appearance, survivors told Hargity of their travails.  Delving into the issue, found herself shocked--as should we all--that tens of thousands of rape kits remained untested all across the country.  So she founded an organization--A Joyful Heart--focused on helping people heal, not perpetuating their victim hood but helping humans rise above terrible circumstances.

Amen for Mariska Hargity.

And No More!

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