Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Who Knew You Had To Pay For Rape Kits?

I was all prepared to be incredibly outraged that while Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, rape victims were billed for their rape kits. I was ready to throw down some pretty harsh language about Sarah Palin. But then I found out something even more outrageous: that other states, among the Illinois, also charge rape victims for the rape kits they use - though Illinois does offer compensation if the victim does not have medical insurance. I'm offended. I'm appalled. The very fact that victims are being asked to pony up money for something that helps the police find the offending criminal is just mind-blowing to me. I don't know what to feel sickened and affronted about first. Should it be that we don't charge other victims of crime for police time and forensic work? Should it be that rape victims have already been victimized and used, and so forcing them to undergo another traumatic event - like shelling out as much as $1,600 for an uncomfortable and humiliating experience - is less than empathetic and doesn't exactly put the victim at ease? Should it be that one of the reasons the Wasilla chief of police opposed a law signed by the then-governor protecting victims from being charged for their rape kits was "the law will require the city and communities to come up with more funds to cover the costs of the forensic exams"? Should it be that rapes can happen to any woman, and that if threats of financial burden stop even one woman from pursuing the conviction of her rapist (and I doubt it would just be one woman who would be stopped), that is one time too many the monetary cost of the thing overcame the judicial rewards?

Rape victims have enough on their plates between the abysmal conviction rates of accused rapists (according to RAINN, only %6 of rapists will ever spend a day in jail) and the stigma that comes with admitting to rape, even now, without having to pay for a method that will help police find the rapist in question. It is incredibly sad and pathetic that in this day and age, anyone anywhere would feel this type of extortion is acceptable, much less the people who make the laws.


mikhailbakunin said...

Yeah, this is pretty friggin' ridiculous. It's a kit for collecting forensic evidence, not a personal medical expense. The police shouldn't be billing insurance companies either.

There are lots of ways to save taxpayers' money . . .

Jeez. Is this really our priority?

John said...

well, it's sad to hear that Illinois is one of the states that charges for rape kits. That takes a foot or two of high ground away from the Obama camp (though not all of it, since the law in Alaska was passed specifically because Wasilla was the town they wanted to stop charging for rape kits.)

I heard that Alaska has the highest rates of rape and incest of any state in the country. We should check the facts to see if this is true, because that's a pretty unsettling fact on its own.

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. God. That is fucking disgusting. I'll have to keep this in mind and bring it up at my next RCC meeting.