A shot was fired at the rape culture Tuesday, as a private sector company, MOKO Social Media, stepped up to the plate by donating $100,000 to Detroit’s Wayne Country Prosecutor’s Office (Michigan) in order to help investigate a shameful backlog of rape kits.
Tresa Baldas of The Detroit News reported that the money is enough “to investigate and prosecute roughly a dozen serial rapists whose DNA turned up in a huge batch of previously untested rape kits, according to the prosecutor’s office.”
“Testing is the first step in bringing justice to long neglected victims. The next important steps are investigation and prosecution. People should be aware that these kits contain valuable evidence that can assist law enforcement in preventing future rapes, robberies, home invasions and even homicides,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy explained in the past.
The money is being donated through the newly launched MOKO Door Foundation to a private fund-raising drive called Enough Sexual Assaults in Detroit (Enough SAID), which was created in January of this year. The MOKO Door Foundation is a charitable initiative of Blue Nation Review and MOKO Social Media.
“Words cannot adequately express how huge this is. We currently have over 600 cases where there have been DNA hits waiting to be investigated. This donation will help us get many of these cases moving,” Worthy said of the donation.
Ian Rodwell, CEO of MOKO Social Media, is committed to helping to end the backlog, according to The Detroit News :
Australian native Ian Rodwell, who is CEO of MOKO Social Media, is committed to helping Worthy achieve that goal. He said he was stunned when he learned about the rape-kit backlog crisis — not only in Detroit, but in other cities as well.
“When I first started reading about this a few months ago, I couldn’t get it out of my mind,” Rodwell said, noting he was stunned that thousands of rape kits anywhere could go untested. ” … It just struck me, the size. I had to sort of read it again to be sure what the number was I was reading. I couldn’t believe the problem was of this size.”
So far, Worthy’s determination to test all of Detroit’s 11,000 kits has resulted in 1,133 DNA matches, resulting in the identification of 255 potential serial rapists, according to End the Backlog. The testing in one place impacts crime victims in other areas, “The Prosecutor’s Office obtained 15 convictions and DNA from the tested kits linked to crimes committed in 30 states and the District of Columbia.”
End the Backlog is a program established by Law and Order:SVU actress Mariska Harigtay’s non-profit Joyful Heart Foundation, created to bring attention to the issue of untested rape kits.
There are an estimated hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in this country. Most states do not even require an inventory of untested rape kits, according to End the Backlog. “Only three states—Illinois, Texas and Colorado—require law enforcement agencies to count, track and test their untested kits. There is no federal law mandating a nationwide movement toward tracking and testing rape kits, despite efforts by some members of Congress to pass such legislation.”
However, President Obama’s 2015 budget proposal included funding for a grant program to help communities address this backlog.
Basically, our current system incentivizes rape by making it super easy to get away with. This problem doesn’t only impact the specific victim whose rape kit is left untested, because so many rapists are repeat offenders. Studies show that “an average rapist has committed at least 10 acts of rape, battery, and child physical and sexual abuse.”
These untested rape kits mean the criminal is free to assault another victim. And another victim. And another. RAINN estimates,”Factoring in unreported rapes, only about 2% of rapists will ever serve a day in prison.”
With only 2% of rapists ever serving a day in jail, rape is a pretty safe crime to commit. These are good odds for a criminal.
Untested rape kits tells rape victims that we are protecting rapists. This is just another factor that feeds the rape culture. But if it’s funding that is needed in order to do the right thing, law enforcement who want to do something about it can and will, as Kym Worthy is proving in Detroit, with a big assist from MOKO, who just fired a warning shot at our rape culture.
This is how we change the rape culture – by refusing to tolerate it, and by stepping up to the plate to help put these criminals behind bars where they belong so they can’t hurt anyone else.
Image: Cropped from an image found on End the Backlog
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.