Legislation introduced to eliminate the rape kit backlog

Could it be? A rare moment of bipartisan commitment to fighting violence against women? Today, lawmakers introduced legislation to help fix the unacceptable backlog of untested rape kits.

“Democrats and Republicans identified a serious problem and they have come together to have a common sense solution,” said Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., one of four legislators — two from each part — who co-sponsored the bill and spoke about it after its introduction today.

There are an estimated 400,000 kits currently backlogged in the United States and one major reason is a lack of funding for local police. This bill will allow local law enforcement to apply for the funds they say are needed to test every rape kit.

“Those are 400,000 victims of criminal conduct,” said Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas. “That is a number. But each one represents a real person.”

The sponsors are hoping that the bill, which is endorsed by more than 100 anti-sexual violence organizations, can get passed by the end of the year. Forgive me for sounding pessimistic, but given that the GOP won’t even support the Violence Against Women Act, I’ll believe that when I see it.

You can go to RAINN to tell your legislators that supporting this bill is a no-brainer.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

Read more about Maya

Join the Conversation