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Manifesto: What Can I Do About Rape?

January 13, 2013

Trigger Warning: This post talks about sexual violence against women.

Did you read this searing piece in the New York Times by Nicholas Kristof?

In the article, he talks about violence against women, especially sexual violence, around the world. This jumped out:

Women worldwide ages 15 through 44 are more likely to die or be maimed because of male violence than because of cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined.

Wow. Tie a pink ribbon around THAT.

Last year, legislators, largely men, tried to declare that insurance coverage for birth control is tantamount to giving women a slut license; that women should have to birth a dead fetus rather than have a necessary medical procedure to remove it; that women don’t get pregnant from rape; that pregnancy from rape is a gift from God; that rape and incest are very uncommon, so why should we worry?

Kristof points out that Congress has also failed to act on or renew three pieces of important legislation: the Violence Against Women Act; the International Violence Against Women Act, and the Trafficking Victims’ Protection Act.

I’m sick of it. I’m just damned sick of it. I’m sick of following links and reading articles and being pissed off and throwing up my hands and worrying about what kind of world the girls I love are growing up in. I’m sick of wondering “What’s wrong with these guys?” and thinking “Why doesn’t anyone pay attention?”

I’m paying attention. I’m fed up and I’m in the mood to do something. I’m also in the mood to ask YOU to do something, too. Stay with me, here.

Here in the US, we can’t even find the will to test rape kits. These kits can provide valuable DNA evidence when women report rape. Instead, they are tossed in some back room, waiting for the funding necessary to process them. The federal government estimates there are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of these kits awaiting testing across the US.

In the many jurisdictions where there is no law or policy that mandates the testing of all collected rape kits, whether or not a kit is tested is based on the discretion of police or prosecutors.

The insane part is that testing one rape kit can solve many crimes and put serial rapists and murderers behind bars.

The organization End the Backlog is working to change this. Actress Mariska Hargitay founded an organization called Joyful Heart to support rape survivors, but that work led her to realize the importance of testing rape kits. End the Backlog is an offshoot of Joyful Heart.

The Senate passed a law in early January funding rape kit testing. The House of Representatives recently refused to pass such a bill, so the legislation is dead in the water, Leaving rape survivors in the lurch once again.

Ok, so here’s what I want from you. It’s a project, and this is my plan:
First, start talking. Do your slacktivist bit and tweet or Facebook the link to End the Backlog.
(Some people have told me that they don’t know how to do this. So. Copy that last line by highlighting it, going to your edit menu, clicking Copy, then going to Facebook or Twitter. Put your cursor in your status box, go to the edit menu and click paste. Voila. There are easier ways, but that should do it.)

NEXT (yes, there’s more), call a local councilperson and ask them about the local laws on testing rape kits.
Questions to ask:

  • Is there a backlog?
  • How big is it?
  • Is there a plan to deal with it?
  • Why not?
  • Have they taken any action?
  • Would they be willing to?
  • Thank them for their time and attention, and let them know you’re concerned, will be talking to your friends and will get back to them.You can email if you’re too shy to call. But a call is better. They may direct you to someone else, so follow up with that. Prepare to be appalled.NEXT, report back to me. The best response wins an all-expenses paid trip to the island of I Took Action, with a 7-night stay at Hotel Moral Superiority.I want to get people all over the place talking about this at a local level. I want to get some stuff done.

    Then we’ll do some more. Sound good? Go. Call.

  1. January 13, 2013 21:16

    Let’s also not forget that the Republican House of Representatives let the Violence Against Women Act die.

  2. January 13, 2013 22:42

    Usually I would read this, leave a comment of support, and move on. Not because I don’t care, but because it’s just too easy for a man to venture into dangerous territory when it comes to discussing rape and violence against women. I’ve read too many horror stories of men being falsely accused to not let it taint my perspective as a man. Yes, rape and sexual violence are abhorrent acts that must be stopped. And, yes, we have to do everything we can to make sure rapists pay for their crimes and are not allowed to rape again. And, yes, we have to do what we can to help victims of rape reclaim their lives and health and be able to find joy in their lives again. Nobody would question these imperatives. But part of the conversation has to look at the bigger picture, and there are many people who don’t want to hear that. So I steer clear. But you’ve made a compelling case to start talking, so I’m going to do just that. This rape-kit backlog is just wrong and demands to be brought to light.

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