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States Must Pay for Anonymous Rape Exams

Trauma and embarrassment prevent many rape victims from seeking medical help or contacting authorities immediately. In an effort to resolve more rape cases, anonymous rape kits will be available at hospitals, colleges, and clinics. This way, after the shock has worn off, and a victim decides to press charges, it will not be too late to present evidence.

Here's how it will work — rape kits include bags and other storage materials for physical evidence like hair, semen, or skin. During the exam, injuries are also photographed. Unlike typical exam kits, the evidence collected with anonymous kits will be stored in a sealed and numbered envelope, only to be opened by police if the victim requests it.

If states want to keep federal funding toward law enforcement and women shelters, provided by the Violence Against Women Act, they will have to pay for these "Jane Doe" rape exams kits, at $800 each.

Considering that as many as 60 percent of rapes are not reported, do you think this is a responsible way to enforce rape laws and make the community safer? What about the victims — will they be more likely to show their faces at a clinic if they know the evidence will be kept secret until they say otherwise?


Join The Conversation
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 9 years
Also, the doctors/nurses/law enforcement need to let the women know that just because they have the kit doesn't mean they have to press charges. This all just seems like another pointless law/tax funded object. Instead of making new laws and taxes, why don't we just enforce the ones we already have?
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 9 years
There is no way that this is completely anonymous. First off, to ever be legally viable for prosecution it will all have to fall under a statute of limitations. Meaning that the woman can't wait forever. Second, the very definition of anonymous is being broken in that to be viable for court the woman has to be identified. Meaning that even if the kit is labled with a number, the woman's name is linked with that number in some database...ergo, not anonymous. My mother used to run the **** Texas Crisis Center and I logged over 500 hours volunteering at the hospital with rape victims. Sounds very similar to what harmony did. Women respond so differently from one another to a suprise party, rape is no different. Every woman handles trauma and shock differently. The training needs to be with the doctors and nurses to make the procedure as smooth and painless as possible. They need to explain every inch of what they are doing and how it will be performed on them. That is the overwhelming complaint that I heard was that the doc/nurse barely spoke to them and they were confused as to what was being done and why.
Beauty Beauty 9 years
Such a great idea. Women who have been raped may be more likely to get the help they need if they know their names won't be linked.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
It seems to me that the benefits of this type of thing would be hard to document in a way. I'm thinking about rapists who start out raping women, and then move on to raping and murdering them. Now, if a woman who was raped eventually returned to press charges and the man was apprehended, this could possibly prevent future rapes and/or murders. However, we would never really know all that was prevented by using these kits while the man sat in jail.
Bisque Bisque 9 years
I've read a couple of articles about this, and the idea of the Jane Doe rape kit is that the Police isn't involved until the victim decides to press charges. Further, articles state that one of the biggest hurdles in reporting rape is due to the fact that the person involved might be doing something that they think wouldn't be looked upon well by Police (illegal, underage etc) so cutting them out of reporting rape could help in a person's willingness to come forward? What worries me is a quote from this article:
In Allegany and Cecil counties in Maryland, evidence is kept at least 90 days. So far, 13 women have submitted anonymous evidence, and none has returned to press charges.
I do hope that that's not the case for place that has anonymous reports of rape cases for many reasons other than the monetary one.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
IF it is true that 60 percent of rapes are not reported, then this might be a good way to re-enforce rape laws. I could understand someone being timid about reporting it at first but then getting angry later on and being ready to report it later. I am sure there are several different stages of the psyche after a rape and at least the evidence would be preserved.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
The cost probably come from the lab work.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
I used to be on a Rape Prevention Team in the Navy. We were also on duty to go sit with the girls or talk to them if a rape occurred on our watch. Now maybe a military rape kit is more invasive, but I had people tell me that the kit was like being raped again. The pubic hair extraction is with a pair of tweezers. In the Navy they needed 15 to 20 hairs with the bulb attached which means they had to be plucked. All cavaties are examined and instruments are inserted to collect samples. After being violated it CAN feel like another violation. I'm not trying to discourage getting rape kits. Absolutely get one. I am just trying to say that if a someone is too ashamed and traumatized to want to press charges (which would entail a rape kit), I don't think MOST people would get a kit done for future use. I'm sure SOME will. I just don't think this is effective on a larger scale.
megnmac megnmac 9 years
Also - Isn't this just a way around mandatory reporting? We make laws to make drs report rapes, and now a law that says they can anonymously do it?
mini_pixie mini_pixie 9 years
I'm sorry, megn, but I don't agree at all! I definitely can see someone who was raped by a significant other/ date not fully wanting to press charges right away but after being given some time and hopefully counseling by friends/ professionals might change their mind. And as far as the folks who reported anyway having the anonymous kit done and then not taking it any further (to filing & conviction as you say), I think that's BS. If the kit is as invasive as it sounds, but I would do it anyway anonymous or not, why wouldn't I push it all the way? That just doesn't make sense. This may not cause a dramatic increase in the number of rape kits done, but as I said before every one more is a good thing.
megnmac megnmac 9 years
further thought - Law enforcement will waste a lot of money collecting evidence that will now be anonymous and never support a conviction. Victims who would report rape anyway will use this service instead of the normal route, thereby lessening filings and convictions. The victims who would not report rape before will not use this service, making the law frivolous. It is a loss/loss for rape victims and law enforcement. It sounds good for the voters though. I guess we save money though on less prosecutions?
megnmac megnmac 9 years
Why was I flagged? Short version - agree w/ harmony and it is expensive.
mini_pixie mini_pixie 9 years
"I guess I don't think any of these medical procedures should cost this much. BUT I suppose that is a WHOLE other issue." You are very right about that!! :)
megnmac megnmac 9 years
"I don't think that people that had no intention of pressing charges (at the time of attack) would want to get a kit done. I think it is a worthwhile idea, just not an effective one." I am 100% with this - I think the women that just want to curl in a ball and hide aren't going to think, well, when I deal with this and am not in shock later then I'll really want this evidence collected. It just doesn't seem to be well thought-out legislation. I also think these are perhaps the hardest cases to prove, so any chance of more evidence we can get we will take, because no matter how much trauma and sex was had, the 'rough sex' defense makes every one a 'he said/she said' and slams reasonable doubt. Sidenote - I see these reports on an almost daily basis. It is definitely costly, time intensive like any dr appt that involves and exam and labwork, and so there is always the question of when should an exam be done (when is retraumatization worth it? What disclosure is trusted, what facts support a likelihood there will be evidence collected?).
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
No prob. liberty ;) "each additional rape that does get reported is a victory and is well worth fighting for, IMO." I completely agree mini-pixie. I just don't think it's going to be as effective as they think it is. As far as the cost I know all of that is expensive. I had an accident recently and my bill was 1200 for 4 stitches and an x-ray. I guess I don't think any of these medical procedures should cost this much. BUT I suppose that is a WHOLE other issue.
mini_pixie mini_pixie 9 years
are you guys kidding? the litany of stuff you spelled out, harmony, sounds like it ought to cost more than 800! if the HMO was billing you for that time, you know it would be well over a grand. The time it takes to process all that stuff, the lab testing for blood, 2 people's DNA, tissue samples etc? plus pictures and nurse time? I just had a blood pregnancy test, std check, and a urine test for protein etc, and my bill from the hospital was $100- and that's after the insurance paid their portion. anyhow, I see your point about the anonymity might not being the draw they are hoping for, but each additional rape that does get reported is a victory and is well worth fighting for, IMO.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
Thanks for the info, harmony!
brittanyk brittanyk 9 years
I don't understand why this should cost $800 either. Although, despite it's expense, I do like the idea of it. I think more women would be willing to come forward if they could do so anonymously and if it was paid for.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
I don't think that people that had no intention of pressing charges (at the time of attack) would want to get a kit done. I think it is a worthwhile idea, just not an effective one. This is what a rape kit entails: A nurse explains the hospital's HIV testing procedure and why HIV testing is beneficial. The victim then decides whether or not to permit HIV testing. In many states, there is no charge to the victim for these services. Routine blood collection is done (to check for pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases). The nurse documents any evidence of torn clothing or external injuries and takes photographs. The victim's clothing is collected and new clothes are provided. Any physical evidence from the rape scene (such as grass or leaves) is also collected. Hairs are collected: the nurse collects any loose hairs or debris in the pelvic area (looking for pubic hairs of the assailant). In some cases, some of the victim's pubic hairs are needed and 15-20 of the victim's head hairs (to differentiate the victim's hairs from the assailant's). Fingernail scrapings are collected for detection of blood or tissue. The nurse then examines the victim's perineum, thighs, abdomen, buttocks and facial area for evidence of semen and, if detected, it is collected. Several slides are made and swabs taken from the vaginal, anal, and oral areas to check for semen, sexually transmitted diseases, and infections. The hospital provides the victim with any preventive medicine necessary (for tetanus, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, etc.). I don't understand why this should cost $800.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Jude I was wondering the same thing! Maybe that price includes the cost of the time the nurses spend? I dunno...
mondaymoos mondaymoos 9 years
I don't see it as a waste of taxpayer money. They cost the same as a regular rape kit, it's just anonymous. Just because the majority of women who are victims may not be interested, doesn't mean it shouldn't be available. And if it's not used... it doesn't cost anything anyway.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I agree Kat. How does this make the person annonymous? The doctor/nurse who performs the procedure will still know. There will still have to be records on file at the hospital linking the person to the Jane Doe kit. What a waste of taxpayer money.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
Hmm. This seems like a very worthwhile expense, to me. Although what is it that makes the kits so expensive? I'm just curious.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
Every place I put woman or women please know that I meant woman/man or women/men. This is not strictly a crime that affects females.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
This is confusing to me. I don't understand what the difference is between a rape kit and a jane doe kit. It is up to the victim whether or not she/he wants a rape kit. Many have described a rape kit as being "raped again." It's very invasive. My point is wouldn't the same group of women that would request a rape kit request a jane doe kit? I understand that the whole point is that the women who didn't immediately want to press charges could change their minds later and still have evidence. The thing is the women who don't want to press charges are much less likely to get a rape kit in the first place. I see what they're going for and the intentions are really good, I just don't know how effective this will be. Not to mention how much it's going to cost the state.
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