In fact, 12,500 rape kits, which are to be tested, remain frozen with the Los Angeles county police department. The report also cited similar negligence across the nation with the Detroit police and the Houston police department storage facilities having a backlog of 10,000 and 4000 untested 'rape kits' respectively. [Sarah Tofte, 2009]
A separate research by CBS found that Louisiana is really worse off. The report showed that Louisiana has untested rape kits from 2001. As Sarah Tofte, the human rights watch research director says, " It's absolutely astounding. What's the point of sending a rape kit to a crime lab for testing if you can't get to it for say, eight years?" [Armen Keteyian, Nov 2009] The problem with such a negligent attitude is that it actually encourages the criminal to commit more such offenses. Sen. Patrick Leahy, who co sponsored the federal legislation that allocated more than a quarter billion dollars for clearing the 'rape kit' backlog expresses his indignation at the lethargic attitude of the police force and the crime labs involved in rape investigations. With studies suggesting that more than 70% of the accused rapists are repeat offenders, the problem of such inactivity among the rape investigators is that it leads more offences and more women at risk. [Armen Keteyian, Nov 2009]
When a rape victim gathers the strength to subject herself to invasive DNA evidence collection process, it is totally shocking that police department has such a careless attitude. Rape prevention strategies and policy measures that try to reduce sexual assault crime in Louisiana should insist and demand swift action in all reported cases of sexual assault crime. If such a Victim friendly environment where the culprit is swiftly brought to justice is lacking, then all measures to increase reporting of sexual offenses would be clearly failing. There is little respite for the victim in reporting a crime when the concerned officials or the department lack the energy to vigorously pursue the case. Even in the minority of cases where rape is officially reported it tends to be a protracted affair offering no justice and peace of mind to the victim.
Rape continues to be a complex and underreported crime even in the Untied States where women enjoy equal rights and freedom. While reporting a crime is the first step towards justice the fact remains that the emotional and psychological trauma of a rape discourages most women from reporting the crime. Also the fact that in more than 80% of the rape cases the perpetrators are known to the victim affects legal pursuit. The question then remains if reporting instances of sexual assault lead to decreased rapes in future? While reporting a crime is important for law enforcement agencies, policy makers and victim service providers to help prevent the crime and in providing post rape care services, whether it exerts a protective effect depends on the positive action taken on the complaints. If, as we discussed earlier, the law enforcement agency exhibits a lethargic attitude in dealing with rape cases high reporting rates would fail to benefit the society. In the case of Louisiana, for instance, the negligent attitude of the police department clearly calls for a drastic change in policy stand. A more vigorous and victim friendly approach to crime solving is crucial for creating a protective effect and for discouraging potential criminals. Only with proactive policing and swift action heinous crimes like rape be controlled.
1) RAINN, 'How often does sexual assault occur', retrieved Apr 7th 2010, from, http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/frequency-of-sexual-assault
2) OVW, 'April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month', retrieved Apr 7th 2010, from, http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/
3) Dean G. Kilpatrick PhD & Kenneth J. Ruggeiro PhD, (2003), 'Rape in Louisiana: A Report to the State One in eight', retrieved Apr 7th 2010, from, http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/ncvc/grants/50_states_reports/louisiana.pdf
5) FBI (2009), 'Crime in the United States: Preliminary semi-annual Uniform Crime Report', retrieved Apr 8th 2010, from, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/2009prelimsem/index.html
6) FBI (2008), 'Crime in the United States By State', retrieved Apr 8th 2010, from, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2008/data/table_05.html
7) Violence Policy Center (2007), 'Louisiana Ranks NO 1 in rate of women murdered by men: According to VPC study released annually for Domestic violence Awareness month in October', retrieved Apr 8th 2010, from http://www.vpc.org/press/0909wmmw.htm