Posts Tagged ‘Domestic violence’

Half a Million Rape Kits Not Tested

FACT:

  • Violence against women occurs within a society which condones male power and control.
  • At least one third of married women will be beaten by a spouse at some point in her marriage.
  • There are at least 2.4 million battered women in America each year.
  • The 1994 Violence Against Women Act was the first piece of federal legislation in the United States designed to address domestic violence.
  • Some examples of violence against women were not punished as crimes until relatively recently (marital rape domestic violence)

***2011: The Year of National Rape Kit Backlog Reform***

1. A rape kit takes usually 4-6 hours

2. It was found that in Illinois in 2010, 80% of rape kits were not tested.

3. It is estimated that 180,000 kits go untested each year–whose potential evidence, which could validate a woman’s claims, identify an attacker or exonerate a suspect, loiters on shelves and in warehouses.

4. Nationwide, crime labs saw their DNA testing backlog double from the beginning to the end of 2005, the most recent year for which data is available, according to a 2008 report by the Census of Publicly Funded Crime Laboratories.

5. It costs between $900 and $1,000 to process and test a rape kit, according to Jeffrey Boschwitz, president of Orchid Cellmark, one of the largest providers of DNA testing.

6. Experts said testing centers would need to increase their staffs by 73 percent to meet demand. Some law enforcement officials said they don’t have the funds or testing infrastructure to meet demand.

7.The federal government helps cities and states foot the bill through grants to local law enforcement agencies through the Debbie Smith Act, but it does not require states to report or enforce efforts to prevent a backlog of rape kit testing.

Some of the funds have also gone unspent, because the law stipulates they cannot be used to hire staff.


8. New York City, which had a 16,000 rape kit testing backlog more than a decade ago, has kept up to date on all completed rape kits, providing results within 30 to 60 days, according to a report from Human Rights Watch, which tracks the problem.

Rape Kit Backlog at LAPD is Eliminated

9. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y. has proposed a law that would require grant recipients to collect DNA samples from all convicted felons in prisons and meet benchmarks for clearing rape kit backlogs.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., has introduced separate, similar legislation.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa Proposed Bill for Rape Kit Analysis

Illinois on Tuesday became the first state to require the testing of all DNA evidence gathered from reported sex crimes



Rape Kit Testing Backlog Thwarts Justice for Victims–ABC News

Rape Kit Backlog Hits Primetime on SVU–Ms Blog

There has been a lot of controversy lately about what is being done in Congress to change the definition of rape.

As sent to me by the VDAY Campaign:

Right now, federal dollars can’t be used for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life is in danger. But the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill introduced by Republican Chris Smith and supported by 173 co-sponsors, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases. With this legislation, the rape exemption would be limited to “forcible rape.” This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape or coerced rape. This could mean cases where women are drugged or given excessive amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with limited mental capacity, and many date rapes would no longer count as rape.

The redefinition of rape in any context is extremely troubling and could have far reaching effects on the movement to end violence against women and girls for years to come.

First, let’s look at the definition of rape as it stands…This is the state law established for the people of Illinois:

ILLINOIS
A. Statutory Rape—Criminal Offenses
A person is deemed incapable of consent if he or she is under 17 years of age, regardless of the
age of the defendant. 1

Sexual activity with someone under 17 years of age is treated as a misdemeanor if:
· The victim is at least 9 years of age and the defendant is less than 17 years of age; or
· The victim is at least 13 years of age and the defendant is less than 5 years older than the
victim.2
Definition of Offenses
Offense Definition
Criminal sexual abuse:

  • Sexual penetration or sexual conduct with someone at least 9 years of age and less than 17 years of age where the defendant is less than 17 years of age.
  • Sexual penetration or sexual conduct with someone at least 13 years of age and less than 17 years of age where the defendant is less than 5 years older than the victim.

Aggravated criminal sexual abuse:

  • Sexual conduct with someone less than 13 years of age where the defendant is at least 17 years of age.
  • Sexual conduct with someone less than 9 years of age where the defendant is less than 17 years of age.
  • Sexual penetration or sexual conduct with someone at least 13 years of age but less than 17 years of age where the defendant is at least 5 years older than the victim.

Aggravated criminal sexual assault:

  • Sexual penetration with someone less than 9 years of age where the defendant is less than 17 years of age.

Predatory criminal sexual assault of a child:

  • Sexual penetration with someone less than 13 years of age where the defendant is at least 17 years of age.

Sexual penetration is defined as: any contact, however slight, between the sex organ or anus of one person by an object, the sex organ, mouth or anus of another person, or any intrusion, however slight, of any part of the body of one person or of any animal or object into the sex organ or anus of another person, including but not limited to cunnilingus, fellatio or anal penetration. Evidence of emission of semen is not required to prove sexual penetration.

Sexual conduct is defined as: any intentional or knowing touching or fondling by either party, either directly or through clothing, of the sex organs, anus or breast of either party, or any part of the body of a child under 13 years of age, or any transfer or transmission of semen by the defendant upon any part of the clothed or unclothed body of the victim, for the purpose of sexual gratification or arousal of either party.

I’m having a hard time deciding how I feel about this…

I always come to a cross-roads with this issue because I am a huge pro-life advocate as well as a die hard feminist. I have recently been doing a lot of research on domestic violence, dating violence, and rape against women. The facts are astounding; and the stories are even more disturbing. I always advocate for more awareness about these issues to both men and women, and I try as much as possible to help educate the women in my life on the facts and self-defense tactics.

When people talk to me about my pro-life activism and what I fight for, the question always comes up:

“Do you believe a woman should still go through with a full pregnancy of the child, if she was forcibly raped, or drugged, or beaten and raped?”

Right now, I would have to say yes, every person deserves a chance at life on this earth. Yes, it would probably be THE HARDEST experience of the victim’s life, but her child deserves a fighting chance.

At the same time, traditional feminist values advocate for the women’s right to choose. Women should have complete control over their bodies and reproductive rights. And I do agree with these values to a certain degree…

However, with the passing of this law, it would limit federal funding for abortion procedures nationwide. And I say good for you Chris Smith.

Here is a video regarding this legislation. You decide for yourself…


This is such a hard topic to discuss, and most of the time, that’s the problem. No one wants to talk about domestic violence and rape, or people are afraid to speak up, or they decide it’s not their place to say anything.

We need to break the silence, we need to work together and fight to deter these heinous crimes. If you suspect any form of emotional or physical abuse, call someone.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE

The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE

The National Stalking Resource Center: 1-800-394-2255

The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474


Sources:

State Rape Laws as established by the Department of Health and Human Services

Sign the Petition Against Redefining Rape

Speak Up About Domestic Violence: Advocacy to Stop Violence Against Women via VDAY.org

Capitol Hill Abortion Rhetoric Heats Up