Every two minutes, someone in the United States is raped. When survivors report their rape, they are asked to have a rape kit collected, a process that can take four to six hours to complete. While an invasive process for the survivor, the potential benefits from it are enormous. Testing can identify an unknown assailant, reveal serial offenders, and bring opportunities for justice and healing to survivors. And yet, hundreds of thousands of times, a decision is made not to process the evidence.
The nationwide backlog of untested rape kits allows rapists to get away with their crimes and, in many cases, to rape again. Rape kit testing may not solve all rape cases, but it has the ability to move more of them forward. National studies have shown that cases in which a rape kit was collected, tested, and contained the offender’s DNA were significantly more likely to move forward in the criminal justice system than cases in which there was no rape kit collected or there were no rape kit test results.
We must eliminate this backlog. We must give survivors the justice they deserve. We must hold perpetrators accountable. The stakes are simply too high.
So what can you do?
Advocate for change
Legislation and policies that require law enforcement agencies to test every rape kit booked into evidence provide a concrete way to ensure greater access to justice for survivors. Encourage your elected officials to pass legislation that will end the backlog and prevent future backlogs. Be heard.
Joyful Heart works in partnership with law enforcement, advocates, lawmakers and survivors to bring attention, funding and legislation to end the backlog of untested rape kits across the country. We call on the criminal justice system to treat sexual assault as seriously as any other crime. We fully commit to holding perpetrators accountable to their actions and getting justice for survivors. Join us in our efforts: share endthebacklog.org with your community. Email your friends and family, tweet it, blog it, spread the word anyway you can. Help us keep this conversation going.
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We can only achieve our goal of ending the rape kit backlog with the support of our community. This important work requires the resources to sustain cutting-edge research and an advocacy presence on national, state and local levels for years to come. With your financial support, we can continue to work toward the day that there is not one untested rape kit anywhere in the country.