Good Vagina News – Plan B, Rape Kits, and Military Baby Steps

I’m happy to report that there’s a lot of good Vagina News today.

– A federal appeals court has defied the Obama administration and sided with the FDA in making Plan B One-Step emergency contraception available over the counter with no age restriction. (An appeal is pending.)

 

– Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy, who since 2009 has been raising outside funds to test the city’s backlog of 10,000+ untested rape kits, has finally gotten some help – in the form of $4 million from the state attorney general. 

“Of the 569 kits that have been tested so far, 136 of those have yielded hits in the Combined DNA Index System maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation… Thirty-two of those hits have been identified as serial rapists.” 

(That means it costs about $27k to identify a serial rapist – basically the price of a new car – which may be the best deal in government spending I’ve ever heard.)

 

– We’ve taken the first baby steps toward addressing military sexual assault. 

A provision has been added to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (which funds military spending) that stops military commanders from being able to reverse rape convictions, as notoriously happened in a case earlier this year. 

Provisions were also added to make it easier for victims to get legal counsel, quicker access to disability benefits for PTSD associated with rape or sexual assault, and to guarantee that convicted military sex offenders will be discharged or dismissed. 

But we have to end on a sour note, because we still have not addressed the core issue; The current structure – which leaves investigation and prosecution of military sexual assault cases solely at the discretion of superior officers – is a disaster. It fails to meet our responsibility to victims, and rewards perpetrators, who are allowed to continue to serve “honorably”, and then sent back into the general population. Until that is addressed, the other changes will have little effect. 

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Hundreds of Thousands of Rape Kits Remain Untested.

If a woman is raped, and IF the attack leaves physical evidence (ie she’s conscious, no condom, etc.), and IF she reports the crime immediately and submits to a three-hour physical exam, and IF the attacker’s DNA is already in the FBI’s database, there’s a good chance he’ll be prosecuted, right?

Wrong.

Prosecutor Kym Worthy has been using federal grant money to
begin testing Detroit’s backlog of 11,303 rape kits. They were found in a
police warehouse in 2009. No one knows how long they’ve been there, but many
are beyond the statue of limitations for prosecuting rape.

Within the first 153 kits tested, they found 21 serial
rapists (the DNA matched multiple victims), and 38 more matched DNA already in
the FBI’s database. In one instance, five women were raped and murdered by the
same man – a convicted rapist who’d been released. Had the first kit been
tested as soon as it was entered, those women might still be alive.

More than 70% of rapists are repeat offenders. It’s
estimated that hundreds of thousands of rape kits are currently sitting on
shelves, untested, across the US. Rape kits cost up to $1500 to test, and are
often considered “low priority” by police.

To learn more, read the article below, then Google ‘Debbie
Smith Act’ and ‘SAFER Act’.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/08/28/rapists-beware-detroit-prosecutor-ids-21-attackers-in-rape-kit-probe.html