“Is Rape Serious?”

This title was penned by Nicholas D. Kristof, columnist for the New York Times.  His article was published April 29, 2009.  I want to get to the point where I can put direct article links on this website, but since I cannot do that yet I will send out just some of what he writes:

“When a woman reports a rape, her body is a crime scene.  She is typically asked to undress over a large sheet of white paper to collect hairs or fibers, and then her body is examined with an ultraviolet light, photographed and thoroughly swabbed for the rapist’s DNA.  It’s a grueling and invasive process that can last four to six hours and produces a “rape kit”–which, it turns out, often sits around for months or years, unopened and untested.

Stunningly often, the rape kit isn’t tested at all because it’s not deemed a priority.  If it is tested, this happens at such a lackadaisical pace that it may be a year or more before there are results (if expedited, results are technically possible in a week).

So, while we have breakthrough DNA technologies to find culprits and exculpate innocent suspects, we aren’t using them properly–and those who work in this field believe the reason is an underlying doubt about the seriousness of some rape cases.  In short, this isn’t justice; it’s indifference…..While the backlog and desultory handling of rape kits are nationwide problems, there is one shining exception: New York City has made a concerted effort over the last decade to test every kit that come in.  The result  has been at least 2,000 cold hits in rape cases, and the arrest rate for reported cases of rape in New York City rose from 40 percent to 70 percent, according to Human Rights Watch.

Some Americans used to argue that it was impossible to rape an unwilling woman.  Few people say that today, or say publicly that a woman “asked for it” if she wore a short skirt.  But the refusal to test rape kits seems a throwback to the same antediluvian skepticism about rape as a traumatic crime.”

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