Jane Doe Rape Kits: Coming in 2009

According Rainn statistics, 1 in 6 women (and 1 in 33 men) will be assaulted in their lifetime. Sadly, these statistics are only based on the number of assault cases actually reported to police agencies. Many assaults, like my own incident, go unreported, because for one reason or another, victims are afraid to come forward. The new Jane Doe Rape Kit, coming out in 2009, provides adult victims with a way to collect and store evidence without initially involving the police.

Federally required Jane Doe Rape Kits are designed to eliminate one of the biggest obstacles in prosecuting rapists in rape cases: Some women are so traumatized by their assault that they don't come forward until it's too late to collect adequate DNA samples. The Jane Doe Kit allows victims to have their evidence stored anonymously until, or if, they choose to eventually report it to the police. The sealed kit is only identifiable by a number on the outside that corresponds to a victim's confidential identity.

Up till now, victims who went to the hospital to get a rape kit completed were immediately contacted by the police to make a report of the incident. This deters a lot of scared women at a distressing time in their lives.

I, like a lot of women, was too upset following my assault to go to the police. I didn't know if I was ready to talk about what happened, expecially to an officer. By the time I ended up telling anyone, a month had passed, and I had no way of proving what my rapist had done to me. A couple of years later, I was emotionally ready to prosecute and go after this abuser, but I couldn't. No evidence was collected. My word against his would not have sufficed.

In 2009, states will be required to pay for Jane Doe Rape Kits in order to continue to receive funding under the Violence Against Women Act. This Act provides states with federally funded money to fund women's shelters and law enforcement training. States will have the ability to choose which locations offer the kit and how long the evidence will be saved.

With the addition of this kit, I believe the number of women assaulted will ultimately be more accurate than the current 1 in 6 statistic. That number may seem like a lot to many people, but after speaking with so many survivors, I have a feeling the number is more like 1 in 4.


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