Memphis Gets Sued Over 15,000 Lost Rape Kits. Oopsie-Daisy!

Illustration for article titled Memphis Gets Sued Over 15,000 Lost Rape Kits. Oopsie-Daisy!

The city of Memphis is being sued for allegedly discarding (or otherwise losing) thousands and thousands (more than a dozen of thousands) of rape kits that they allowed to accumulate untested for decades. Happy Boxing Day, everyone!

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According to a lawsuit filed by an unnamed Memphis woman who was a victim of sexual assault 13 years ago, the Memphis Police Department has been exceptionally shitty about actually doing a thing — a single thing — about testing them.

You'd think with all this technology we have nowadays it would be easier to stay organized, but it seems that life is more confusing than ever. Where are my keys? Where is my fancy-pantsy phone? Where are those 15,000 untested rape kits? Did I throw those away with that ball of old receipts at the bottom of my purse?

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Memphis isn't the only municipality with a big closet full o' TK rape kits; according to estimates, around 180,000 rape kits remain untested across the country.

This is especially upsetting when taking into consideration the process of submitting to a post-rape forensic medical exam can be upsetting and traumatic for victims, involving a head-to-toe exam, including an internal exam and photo documentation. That thousands of women submitted to the process and trusted law enforcement would follow up only to be let down by the institutions that are supposed to protect is unconscionable. If police departments exist to protect civilians, only they fail to protect half of civilians, then for what purpose do police departments exist?

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DISCUSSION

This makes me so mad, because yeah, when the rapist is an unknown assailant, it can be really hard to identify them, but I feel like whenever there's a big push to get through the rape kit backlogs, there's inevitably a few cases where DNA shows that there's few multiple rapists. And maybe each individual person doesn't have enough information to identify their rapist, but if they combine all the stories from the people who were raped by the same person, they can get that person off of the street.

Or, you know, we can just take the attitude that rapes are too difficult to prosecute, especially when the victim doesn't know their attacker, and let the rape kits fall to the wayside as multiple rapists continue to do their thing, confident in the knowledge that they'll probably never be caught, because no one is bothering to look for them.