Miss­ing the com­plex­ity be­hind untested rape kits

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION - Paul Kelsch, Alexandria

The July 7Metro ar­ti­cle “2,369 rape kits in Va. untested, au­dit finds” cited some­what vague rea­sons some rape kits were not tested: The vic­tims chose not to par­tic­i­pate (more than 25 per­cent); po­lice deemed it un­nec­es­sary, of­ten be­cause the sus­pect ac­knowl­edged in­ter­course had oc­curred (25 per­cent); pros­e­cu­tors didn’t pur­sue charges (19 per­cent); and po­lice claimed the charge was un­founded (11 per­cent). In to­tal, this means that more than 80 per­cent went untested for ar­guably un­der­stand­able rea­sons.

The kits per­haps should be sent to the state crime lab by po­lice and tested any­way be­cause, as the ar­ti­cle said, there may be other valu­able in­for­ma­tion to be gained. The ar­ti­cle also said the crime lab has no back­log of kits wait­ing to be tested.

The July 8 ed­i­to­rial “Leav­ing vic­tims on the shelf” as­serted that these 2,369 rape kits rep­re­sent 2,369 crime vic­tims with­out know­ing the de­tails of the cases, sug­gest­ing the vic­tims were de­nied clo­sure and that an un­known num­ber of per­pe­tra­tors have walked free. That ig­nored the com­plex­ity of the sit­u­a­tion, as re­ported in the orig­i­nal ar­ti­cle, and as­sumed it rep­re­sented clear dis­re­gard for the al­leged vic­tims. The ed­i­to­rial claimed that this is a “fail­ure” on the part of Vir­ginia po­lice de­part­ments and is symp­to­matic of a “na­tional epi­demic.”

Sex­ual vi­o­lence is re­ceiv­ing much-needed at­ten­tion, aimed in part at com­bat­ing the dis­re­gard for rape vic­tims that char­ac­ter­izes toomany cases. It is im­por­tant to vic­tims and so­ci­ety that we ad­dress these is­sues and strive for jus­tice. But it does not help to mis­rep­re­sent the facts, sac­ri­fic­ing com­plex­ity for want of a clear po­si­tion in the face of a gen­uinely prob­lem­atic is­sue.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.