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 of the DNA evidence in a rape kit can identify an unknown perpetrator, confirm the presence of a known assailant, corroborate the victim's account of the rape and exonerate innocent suspects. And yet, hundreds of thousands of times, a decision is made not to process the evidence. Even when law enforcement does send a kit to a crime lab for testing, it can sit for months, and in some cases years, before being tested.
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.
Advocates across the country are working to end city and statewide rape kit backlogs, but they cannot take this on alone. They need support. They need voices. And they need resources. There are ways for all of us to get involved in taking action to end the rape kit backlog in the United States.
What Can You Do?
Through the collective energy of committed organizations and dedicated individuals, we can make our voices heard and demand that elected officials and members of law enforcement make ending a backlog their highest priority. There are several ways that community members can stand up, take action and join in this critical movement:
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.
Shop for ENDTHEBACKLOG Products
Not only will you make a statement in your ENDTHEBACKLOG gear, with every purchase, 100% of proceeds are donated to the Joyful Heart Foundation, the organization behind the ENDTHEBACKLOG campaign. T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, notebooks and more are a great way to start a conversation about the rape kit backlog.
Support Your Community
Backlogs often begin in part because state and local law enforcement lack the resources to test every rape kit booked into evidence. In cities like Detroit and Los Angeles, donations from the general public, private foundations and corporate partners have helped to end the backlog. Contact your elected officials to ask how you can get involved and how your support can make a different in your community.
Donate to Joyful Heart's ENDTHEBACKLOG Work
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. Click here to make a donation.
Donate to Detroit
It costs between $1,000 – $1,500 to test every single rape kit. There are over 10,000 kits left in Detroit's rape kit backlog. Your donation can go directly to testing them. Donate to the Detroit Crime Commission's backlog initiative by clicking here.