Almost a Half-Million Rape Kits go Untested in United States
Police rarely finds attackers, because they probably aren't looking
You ever wonder why you will hear about a woman getting raped, but rarely hear about the rapist being caught? Well, it could be because the police aren't doing the best job of looking for them.
According to a report by Bloomberg Businessweek, anywhere from 180,000 to 400,000 rape kits are currently untested in the United States. To give you a more detailed look, the city of Detroit was found to have between 9,000 and 11,300. Houston reportedly has a 4,000-kit backlog and Los Angeles is said to be sitting on 7,000 themselves.
The bright side, if any, is that these cities are at least trying to make up for their mistakes by using grant money to back and test the kits. Bloomberg reports that testing a rape kit cost anywhere from $1,200 to $1,500.
However, going back and testing the kits runs the risk of opening old psychological wounds for the victims. The report also found that many of the guilty rapists identified by the kits were already in prison on other charges. Granted, if when found guilty, the rapists will have more time added to their sentences, but it rarely brings closure to the victims.
For example, Helena Lazaro of Los Angeles was raped a knifepoint at a car wash in 1996. She took a rape kit test soon after.
I did my rape kit. It was just terrible," she says. "It was very impersonal. The doctor disregarded my wishes and examined parts of my body I asked him not to. The police questioned me at the same time. They asked, `Why were you at the car wash at night? Are you sure you didn't know him? Are you sure you didn't want it?'"
She tried following up about her results, but police stop answering and returning her calls. It wasn't until she sought the help of advocacy group Peace Over Violence in 2009, that she found out that her 1996 rape kit wasn't even tested until 2003. Her attacker is already serving 25-years for another rape and will have time added onto that.
"Women go to the hospital and their bodies are a crime scene and treated as such," says rape victim Carol Bart.
Bart was raped in 1984 and her rape kit wasn't tested until 2008. Though her attacker wound up going to prison for other crimes including indecency with a child, he was never charged for his crime against her because the statute of limitations expired.
She continues, "For these kits then to just to sit in a laboratory or in police vaults or wherever they sit, denies victims of sexual assault any opportunity for justice. I just wonder how many more there are?"
Considering that rape is already the most under-reported crime, mainly because of a culture where the victim's credibility is almost instantly challenged, figures like these don't give victims much hope in finding justice.
[ALSO READ: Gabrielle Union Says Being Raped Was Her "A-ha" Moment]