Rape Culture Watch: No Need for Most Rape Kits

Sheriff Craig Rowland of the Bingham County Sheriff’s Department in Idaho is in hot water this week after stating in a local press interview that there is no need for a state-mandated schedule of rape kit testing.  His reason? “Most of our rapes that are called in are actually consensual sex.”

Rowland cited the example of a hypothetical 17-year-old who lied to her parents and told them she’d been raped to avoid getting into trouble for having sex, an example so common among the Blame-the-Victim crowd it is almost cliche.

Rowland’s statement (which he later apologized for on Facebook) was in response to a bill introduced by Rep. Melissa Wintrow (D) that mandates the testing of all rape kits collected, requires that the rape kits be tested in a timely manner, and sets up notification of rape survivors about where their kit is in the process.

In 2015, consortium of journalists from 75 news outlets conducted a thorough inventory of untested rape kits in the nation. They found the numbers of kits that had not been sent on for testing topped 70,000 from the first 1,000 of more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the country.

According to End the Backlog, a website dedicated to moving these tests along and advocating for rape survivors, many states are now moving to enact legislation that requires testing of these kits. If the Idaho governor signs the legislature-approved bill into law, Idaho will join Colorado, Illinois, Ohio and Texas in having policies to address the backlog of rape kits, an effort Sheriff Rowland indicated would get in the way of law enforcement doing their jobs.

As for Sheriff Rowland’s hypothetical example? The Centers for Disease Control report that 10.5% of girls and 4.2% of boys report having forced sexual intercourse (aka rape) in high school. Maybe not so hypothetical after all.

For more information on ending the backlog, see http://endthebacklog.org/



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