Canada has a rape kit problem | VICE News

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.


Tech giants, chastened by Heartbleed, finally agree to fund OpenSSL

Tech giants, chastened by Heartbleed, finally agree to fund OpenSSL:

OpenSSL’s bare-bones operations are in stark contrast to some other open source projects that receive sponsorship from corporations relying on their code. Chief among them is probably the Linux operating system kernel, which has a foundation with multiple employees and funding from HP, IBM, Red Hat, Intel, Oracle, Google, Cisco, and many other companies. Workers at some of these firms spend large amounts of their employers’ time writing code for the Linux kernel, benefiting everyone who uses it.

That’s never been the case with OpenSSL, but the Linux Foundation wants to change that. The foundation today is announcing a three-year initiative with at least $3.9 million to help under-funded open source projects—with OpenSSL coming first. Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Dell, Facebook, Fujitsu, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NetApp, Qualcomm, Rackspace, and VMware have all pledged to commit at least $100,000 a year for at least three years to the “Core Infrastructure Initiative,” Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin told Ars.

To be clear, the money will go to multiple open source projects—OpenSSL will get a portion of the funding but likely nowhere close to the entire $3.9 million. The initiative will identify important open source projects that need help in addition to OpenSSL.

This is really excellent news: the large companies and organizations that rely on open-source critical infrastructure projects need to (ideally) contribute back through either code contributions of financial support. Hopefully we’ll not just see money but efforts to improve and develop the code of these projects, projects which often are the hidden veins that enable contemporary Internet experiences.