Saturday, February 12, 2011

Why rape kits do help

I came across this article the other day.  It talks about how rape kits might be pointless since rape cases are about consent and not about whether the act actually happened.  I would say whether the sexual act was consensual or not, but I hate that rape is considered sex and it is certainly not a sexual act.  That, however, is an entirely different post for another time.

The author, Wendy Murphy, makes several good points.  If I didn't think about it thoroughly, or have a guy reaction to it before I thought about it thoroughly, I would have agreed with her.  There is a huge number of rape kits just sitting in storage waiting to be tested.  Her argument is that most of them do not need to be tested. 

As I said, she makes several good points.  The most important point is that if we don't test the ones where the rapist is known, we can free up the money and resources needed to test the ones where the rapist is a stranger.  Given that 85% of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows, this would be a good idea to help find those 15% of rapists that are not known.

There are a host of good reasons she gives for the 85% of non-stranger rape kits to be left untouched.  If you want to know them, go read her article.  I'll quote one part for you.  She states that "90 percent of those 12,000 cases [that went untested in California] involve victims and perpetrators who know each other. That means only about 1,200 kits should even be considered for testing. Of those, there's a good chance a majority will be rejected for testing because studies have long shown that many rapists do not ejaculate."

Well, if the only way to get DNA was from ejaculation then by all means, this makes perfect sense.  The invasion of boundaries and horrible aspects of going through a rape kit would be for no reason simply because the DNA could not be found.  Luckily, they test for more than semen.  How else do they search for DNA?  They look for hairs that could have DNA strands still attached to them.  They look for fibers that point to clothes the rapist wore.  They test for a lot of different things.

Still, her point remains that we need to free up cases for stranger rape cases.  My problem is that this doesn't make sense to me.  If a rapist knows that the rape kit will not be tested because the victim knows them, they can deny the fact that they had the consensual sex they will claim they had if their DNA is found.

We don't know what makes rapists say that they had consensual sex.  What fear is put into them that they say they even saw their victim?  Maybe it has to do with the fear that there was a rape kit, that it was tested, and their DNA was found.  If their fear was that someone saw the two of them together, why not say they just met and hung out? 

In my history, I went to the university police since both incidents happened on campus.  I went for an academic hearing to try to get them expelled.  An actual trial, the kind everyone knows about, was not done.  Again, that is another story for another post.  During the academic hearings, both guys said that what we did was consensual.  My rapists story matched mine pretty closely, a few details changed, and of course that included the whole consensual part.  My assailants story was 95% different from what actually happened.  Perhaps because he knew there was little chance that he would be found guilty due to the circumstances of the case itself that I can't get into without going into detail about what happened.  But all you need to know is, even I knew the chance of him being found guilty by the school was a long shot.  My rapist was found guilty and was suspended from school.  My assailant, no shocker, was found innocent.

What made one say most of the truth and one make up a completely different story?  I have no clue.  No one expert would be able to give me an answer either.  I wish I had a rape kit done though for my rape.  I don't know what it would have found for my assault, and I doubt any evidence would have made a difference.  But you never know.  Why would I want it done for my rape?  Because when I went for the prosecution, for the trial, for that 2% shot at jail time (although according to RAINN it is 6%, so we'll go with their numbers instead of Wendy's), I was told that without that rape kit, the police had no reason to even interview my rapist.  Partly because once he was suspended he moved 6 hours away from the area, buy partly because he would have had to say he raped me for anything to happen.  Why?  No rape kit. 

We talk about rape kits because they help suspected rapists get interviewed by the police, to be put on trial, to have a chance at justice.  Are we going to start telling women that because they knew their rapists, their invasive and horrible rape kit should just be thrown out?  Should we tell them not to bother getting a rape kit at all?  We created these for a reason.  I have to argue that funding needs to be given to test these kits.  If the victim wants to be put through hell to get this kit done, to be given hope that evidence will be found, to make the chance that they might be part of that 6% that puts their rapist behind bars, then test the rape kit!  And according to RAINN, that 6% includes unreported cases and of those reported, the number put behind bars is 16.3%.  Still low, but an extra 10% makes a difference. 

One last point, if we take into account that most rapists don't ejaculate and therefore the possibility of DNA is hard to find, what are the chances that we will find the stranger?  What are the chances that the stranger has DNA in the system because with a victim knowing their rapist, they can test the DNA easily.  You cannot, however, go and test random strangers in the hopes that their DNA will be a match.  They have to be in the system for one reason or another and that is hard to come by.

It is up to you to decide if any of this makes sense, but to me, it is obvious that if the victim went through the hell of getting a rape kit done, then it should be tested.  The problem is we don't have funding for the testing.  The answer is not to only test stranger rape cases, but to take rape more seriously and give it more funding because it is a serious crime.

No comments:

Post a Comment