This piece is excellent if incredibly depressing: for funding reasons (or, more cynically, failure of predominant male politicians to raise this issue on the political agenda…) women who are assaulted are often unable to access rape kits. These kits are used to collect evidence for potential criminal investigations pertaining to the assault.
But the end of the (very long, and detailed) article ends with an important reminder for readers who have gotten to the end:
Rape kits, ultimately, are only a small piece of a bigger problem with the justice system, says Hilla Kerner, a front-line worker at Vancouver’s Rape Relief Shelter.
She said rape kits are only helpful in cases that the attacker denies any sexual contact and DNA evidence can contradict that claim. It’s rare that this is a line of defense, she said—but when it is, the evidence gathered with a rape kit is vital.
Basically, if the accused’s DNA is found on the complainant’s body, it removes the line of defence of: ‘I don’t know her, I’ve never seen her before.’
“We shouldn’t fool ourselves that a rape kit is the solution to getting more cases through the criminal justice system,” Kerner said. “There is a need for urgent reform in the criminal justice system, and rape kits are just one element of the whole transformation that needs to happen.”
In other words, though we need to improve access to forensic services, we shouldn’t imagine that such access alone will alleviate the incredibly hostile approach the criminal justic system takes towards the victims of rape and sexual assault.