Thursday, May 15, 2008

Jane Doe Rape Kits Go Nationwide – Aim at Fixing Some Challenges When It comes to Prosecuting Rape.

This week many news stories have focused on anonymous rape kits that will be available across the country.

The kits are available for survivors too afraid or too ashamed to go to police. The Jane Doe test allows them to undergo an emergency-room forensic rape exam, and the evidence gathered will be kept on file in a sealed envelope with just a number on it in case they decide to press charges somewhere down the road.

It may help reduce the number of assault and rape victims who never come forward and it aims to eliminate one of the biggest challenges when prosecuting a rape case: often women are so traumatized by what happened, when she actually decides to press charges, it’s too late to collect the evidence.

According to the Rape and Domestic Abuse Center in Sioux Falls, up to 84% of sexual assault cases go unreported.*

I was watching some of the coverage of this last night, and my first reaction was: Wow, what a great thing. The more we can do to ease the pain and trauma of rape and sexual assault victims, the better; the more we can do to have more women eventually decide to prosecute rape and sexual assault perpetrators, the better.

But, since my brain is constantly in “work-mode” focusing on the November Abortion Ban Measure, I got to thinking, once again, about Initiated Measure 11 and it’s many flaws. VoteYesForLife says the measure has exceptions for rape and incest, but it clearly does not when you consider the fact that up to 84 percent of victims never come forward. It makes termination an option only for the 26 percent willing to go to police.

And, while these kits are beneficial to law enforcement and, more importantly, the survivor, they do nothing to insure her right to a safe and legal abortion should she become pregnant from the rape.

The kit will collect the evidence and keep it safe for a later date if she chooses to prosecute. Under Initiated Measure 11, if she does not become pregnant or becomes pregnant and carries the pregnancy to term she can CHOOSE to prosecute. If she is pregnant and wants to end the pregnancy, she has no CHOICE…she must report the crime and turn evidence over to the police regardless of the circumstances.

This seems extremely unfair and random. How do supporters of #11 justify this absurd inconsistency? Why is it only some women are protected under Initiated Measure 11? What kind of law is it if it only allows certain freedoms to a select group of individuals? A really bad one. A really unfair one.

*as reported on KSFY-TV, May 14th, 2008

News Stories

KSFY-TV: Jane Doe Rape Kits Provide New Option

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