for the test that law enforcement uses to go after their attackers. Rape kits can cost up to $1,800 and hospitals are filing insurance claims for the victims to foot the bill. What’s more some Texan women have been told that until they pay up the investigation against an attacker will not begin.
Texas is not alone in charging for this test. In the town of Wasilla, Alaska victims were also charged for the tests until the state government outlawed that practice. The same holds true in North Carolina where victims were asked to cover some or all of the cost until the Raleigh News & Observer newspaper alerted the public of the practice.
A rape kit consists of bags for clothing, a comb to collect pubic hair, test tubes for blood collection, swabs for DNA checks and fluid, and a series of tests for sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and DNA collection.
Perhaps even more more shocking is the revelations that some police departments don’t even bother with processing rape kits. Last year the Los Angeles City Police Department had over 7,000 untested rape kits that were sitting idle.
City Watch LA reports:
A representative of women’s issues has been quoted as saying, “When a rape is committed, the victim’s body is the crime scene. They consent to its search in the same way that a person who has suffered a property crime consents to a search of their home, though it’s themselves these victims are opening to inspection.” To treat evidence gathered at that excruciating moment in their lives by not testing it, she said, “betrays the victim’s faith in the criminal justice system.”
The California Chronicle reports:
In his testimony, Assembly member Anthony Portantino credited both the City and County of Los Angeles for publicly making the commitment that they will be testing every kit in their possession. Mr. Portantino added, “I have introduced AB 1017 to ensure that every community in California has the same assurance that all evidence of rapes and sexual assaults will be processed and collected to identify and punish those guilty of crimes.
Each test costs about $1,000 to process in Los Angeles. New York City had a backlog in 1996. They decided that was unacceptable and opened up more labs within the Medical Examiner’s Office. Turnaround now is within two weeks.
In Chicago labs routinely take a year to finish the reports from the tests. That gives the attackers more time to wander around free and clear.
The Chicago Tribune reports:
The General Assembly, which appropriates money to the state crime lab and other state agencies, was also in the dark, said state Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs). “We were lied to,” said Durkin, who sponsored legislation in 2007 calling for the audit of the state crime lab. “To know how to handle this, it’s extremely important that they act in a transparent way.”
Until crimes against women are considered as important as those against men this type of behavior will continue.