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/



Federal Judge: Consensual BDSM is Not Constitutionally Protected

A federal court in Virginia ruled recently that consensual kink is not constitutionally protected,that is, that an individual has no right to engage in 100% consensual BDSM.  Judge TS Ellis, ruling on Doe vs. George Mason University et. al, stated in his analysis:

“A legislative restriction on BDSM activity is justifiable by reference to the state’s interest in the protection of vulnerable persons, i.e. sexual partners placed in situations with an elevated risk of physical harm. In this respect, the conclusion… that there is no deeply rooted history or tradition of BDSM sexual activity remains relevant and important to the analysis.”


The court found that banning BDSM activities is justified and further states that since there is no “deeply rooted” tradition of BDSM (defined as including “binding and gagging, or the use of physical force, such as spanking or choking,” activities “not present in traditional sex”), it is not constitutionally protected.

Although the term “BDSM” dates only to 1969, the history of BDSM activities can be traced through such ancient documents as the Kama Sutra, which specifies the use of certain kinds of hitting during sex and through art dating back thousands of years. Dating back to the 5th century BC is an Etruscan fresco depicting two men flagellating a woman. Academic historian Anne O. Nomis has found evidence dating back to 1590 of the Dominatrix as a professional.

“This is one judge’s ruling and it doesn’t create law,” said Allena Gabosch, founder and current Development Director for the Center for Sex Positive Culture. It can, however, set legal precedent. People interested in this news item might consult the Free Thought Project or the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom to inquire further.