My first thought was that hearing about this “product” felt exactly like hearing about crisis pregnancy centers.
Were the cops running out of rape kits? Is the target market people who were raped but don’t want to file a police report? She says that she wants to help rape victims, but I don’t see how this could possible achieve that goal.
I don’t think many of the men here fully understand what is involved with a full rape kit, and if they did I don’t think they would dismiss the appeal of wanting to be able to do it themselves.
The whole process is almost deliberately humiliating. Not only do you have to admit to complete strangers that you were raped, you are poked and prodded everywhere that was recently assaulted as well anywhere else that may have evidence, as photographed and made to give a formal statement to even more strangers, all preferably as soon as possible after having what is possibly the most traumatizing event of your life.
All along the way people are asking you if you consent to being so thoroughly exposed, while you know that if you withdraw consent at any point all that you have gone through up to that point may be for nothing, also knowing that even if you do everything right that it may not make any difference at trial.
If you are lucky, you are angry or numb enough to go through a process that can take hours when all you want to do is scrub every part of you clean, burn whatever you were wearing, and forget the whole thing happened.
So I can see the appeal of a “home rape kit”, but with the way things are now marketing one is harmful. It is ironic how in rape cases the burden of proof is on the victim, but the victim themselves can not provide the proof.
What would help rape victims is believing them, and not to default to the position that the victim has an agenda in making the accusation.
Profit is a powerful motivator for ignoring potential problems. Intentional grift is certainly a possibility, but so simple incompetence. My only point is that the outcome is the same as if a misogynist had marketed this product in order to cause the harm it will to people who won’t go to a crisis center or other medical facility.
I am so very relieved that the post title wasn’t describing anything nearly as horrible as I’d first imagined.
Came here to say this. Rape kits and investigations are second assaults in their own right, and sadly another hurdle in actually prosecuting rapists.
Certainly. My question is, what is the use case for this? It’s inadmissible in court, the survivor and those who believe them already know what it can tell them, those obtuse enough to give rapists the benefit of the doubt aren’t going to be convinced by it, and, as you say, the way it’s marketed is harmful in that it could well divert survivors who would otherwise seek legally admissible rape kits from medical professionals from doing so. The appeal seems obvious, hence the harm this can do. At the very least it should have not legally admissible in big bold font on the front of the box.
This seems like a well-intentioned idea certain to backfire.
Is there a use case where survivors could derive some benefit or comfort from using these home kits even though it inadmissible in court?
When I was a little kid, I thought a drug test was like a wine tasting, only not.
Either that, or a penal colony is not what I thought it was.
How about making them rigorous enough to admissible in court? Or at the very least make the rape kit process that is legally acceptable less of a secondary assault by multiple participants.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to develop a better rape kit for the cops? Ultimately chain of evidence concerns mean a fully self-administered kit probably won’t be feasible, but perhaps the process can be improved.
Also, isn’t burden of proof always on the victim/police? We don’t pick up people for possible assault and then tell them that they have to prove that they assaulted someone else. No matter how much you believe the victim, you still need to gather evidence if you want to secure the conviction in court.
Those are both excellent ideas. This product though is neither. But if it brings attention to the travesty that is rape kit testing (and lack of lab-work follow through) in the US then it will have done some good.
Chain of custody rules are going to be a fundamental problem with this entire concept. You don’t want some lawyer punching a hole in your case because the evidence could have been tampered with after you collected it.
I’m just not sure how a do-it-yourself kit self-administered by a layperson can meet that test. Real rape kits involve multiple medical professionals and LEOs signing off on the procedure, chain of custody, etc.
The point you make above is a good one, though. The existing procedures need to be refined to allow for more empathy for the victim and to allow for less of a sense of additional violation.
Still is, ’round these parts.
I could see a reasonable compromise between rape kits done as they are now and a do it yourself one is a process that could be done in a clean room in a police station where the victim can collect the evidence from themselves by following directions by either a medical professional or a officer trained for this.
The legal hurdles that are in place right now are deliberate ones designed to deter rape victim from coming forward. Laws, procedures, and attitudes to rape cases are not insurmountable problems. They can be changed if the will is there.
My initial thoughts were that as a “joke”/art piece, it just trollies rape survivors (or worse, seeks to muddy the waters so evidence isn’t collected), and as an actual product incompetence alone doesn’t seem to explain it. Reading a few different articles, I’m tending towards thinking this is well-intentioned, but dangerously poorly thought out. I’m still not sure if it’s performance art or an actual start-up, though.
She says that, yeah. It seems to me there are two possibilities here: one is that it’s an outright, cynical scam, the other is that it’s an ill-considered product of dangerous self-delusion, a provocation (but not necessarily a product) perhaps intended to make rape-kits more accessible, that unintentionally ends up a scam as it does the opposite. I think it’s the latter. (Though her narrative about herself may not be accurate in either case, as both are performances.)
If one wanted to set up a product like this, the first issue would be to make sure it was legally admissible, otherwise there’s no damn point. So understanding evidence collection and chain-of-custody would be the first step. (Which would lead to the realization there was no way to make this work as a product.) Yet supposedly they’re only getting around to that now - after setting up a website and taking “pre-orders.” Her excuse was that they were a couple of young women who wouldn’t have gotten meetings with AGs, and now they’ve forced the issue - that the publicity will “bring them to the table.”
The problem with that is, the evidence-collection process isn’t negotiable; they’re not negotiating with AGs about making this admissible, nor was this the way to get the information they need to make it so (because it fundamentally can’t be). Worse, the very fact that you can click on a button to “order” one and be told that you’ll be put on a waiting list makes this incredibly dangerous. (After all, the whole supposed point is to collect evidence immediately. If you need one, a waiting list guarantees the evidence will never be collected.) Whatever the actual intentions, functionally what exists now will do only one thing - prevent a certain number of survivors from ever collecting evidence.
They don’t actually exist, so they’re not real in any sense. It’s one or two women, some press releases and a CGI mock-up of a kit.
To be “fair” they don’t actually have a product. (I’m not entirely convinced they ever will, or if that’s the point.)
If we’re being charitable, they haven’t figured that out yet, as they haven’t thought it through.
I fully understand the appeal. But a product that does not - and cannot - legally work as a rape kit is worse than no product at all. Thinking you’ve secured evidence when, in fact, you’ve actually lost the opportunity to collect it entirely, that’s just another crime perpetrated upon the survivor.
The problem isn’t the kit - it’s the cops. A better solution would be to replace the entire system of evidence collection and statement-taking with a better system staffed with trained, empathetic professionals who will never, ever question if you’re “sure you want to ruin that boy’s life” by pressing charges.
Not just after, either - in this situation, you don’t even have any idea what the kit was taking samples from in the first place. The whole process for a home kit is fundamentally unworkable.
After reading this, I just want to punch someone in the face. Who made this?
Yeah I think the Michigan Attorney General is being cautious when she says the evidence thus collected “may” not be admissible. Surely the whole issue is who collects the evidence, not what hardware is used to do the work.
The idea of a rape kit being branded ‘metoo’ is just is such poor taste that I don’t even have words for it.