An opinion piece in the NY Times
considers how to ease the problem of "rape kits" going unprocessed for years by increasing the number of SANEs (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners).
Las Vegas — If you are an adult victim of sexual assault in Las Vegas, there is only one hospital where you can go to have a rape kit completed. Only two nurses in that hospital have specialized training to do the exam.
In a metropolitan area of two million people, in a state with consistently high rates of domestic violence, the limited number of resources for sexual assault survivors seeking to prosecute, although troubling, is not unique.
There are shortages of sexual assault nurse examiners throughout the United States, but such low numbers are more common in rural areas, where patients seeking rape kits may be redirected to hospitals hours away.
These examinations can take a long time, up to six hours, and are most effective when completed shortly after the assault. Before receiving an exam, victims are encouraged not to change their clothes. Not to shower. Not to use the restroom. So if a patient’s nearest medical facility does not have the staff or resources available to complete the highly personal exam, or to provide sensitive, timely care, that victim may, as a result, choose to forgo reporting their assailant.
The national issue of untested rape kits has gained attention in recent years because of initiatives like End the Backlog that have revealed the staggering numbers of untested kits sitting in law enforcement storage rooms. According to End the Backlog, there are approximately 8,000 that remain untested in Nevada.
But before those rape kits can even accumulate in police departments, they have to be administered and sealed, typically by nurses. Certified nurses receive training on how to properly collect and preserve forensic evidence. They are prepared to testify in court. Research shows that sexual assault nurse examiners finish examinations in shorter time periods than untrained staff. They offer more emotionally sensitive care.
Few nurses receive the training, though, and not all hospitals staff them. For some hospitals, the number of patients that seek sexual assault exams are so rare, just a few cases a month, that the cost of training nurses, or paying them to be on-call, is not financially feasible.
Jun 30, '17
I think the backlog is not because of a lack of nurses, rather city and state govts not being willing to spend the money required to process the evidence. There is a complete breakdown of social service funding in city, state and federal govts. An unwillingness to spend the money necessary to maintain everything from public infrastructure such as bridges and roads to public education, child protection etc all to give tax cuts to the rich. The only thing govts are willing to spend money on are police, prisons and the military to fund wars. Ironic that there is money for prisons but not to process the rape kits, maybe it's just another example of mysogyny and sex discrimination since women are the majority of rape victims, they can't get any respect in this country. If it were a man's problem I think this wouldn't be the case! Just my opinion.
Last edit by brandy1017 on Jun 30, '17