Sunday, May 10, 2009

News Talk Online May 11, 2009: Charging Women For Rape Kits

Yesterday I reported that New York City was charging some homeless people to stay in shelters. Today I've learned that the state of Texas is charging women for rape kits.

Remember shortly after Sarah Palin was announced as the Republican Party's candidate for vice president? The story broke that, when she was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska the police were charging rape victims for the procedure used to determine the veracity of their claims. It cause a political stink. Whether she was responsible for the policy or not, it at least raised awareness and public indignation.

But that was a tiny town in Alaska. Now, the story breaks that the second largest state in the Union is doing likewise.

The cost to the hospitals is, we are told, about $1,800 per patient. But it is also being reported that the state has a victim's compensation fund that could cover this cost.

When a woman is sexually assaulted, we owe it to her to handle her case with a degree of dignity. The days of trying to make her ashamed for what happened are, hopefully, long gone.

Texas, and other areas of the nation that may be charging for rape kits, need to re-evaluate their policies and take on the responsibility of paying for the kits, just as they pay for collecting any other forensic evidence when investigating a crime.




16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Seldom does a victim ask that the hospital utilize a rape kit, it may be required by statute or required by police. Let those who request it pay.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely! The days of gouging the public "just because they can" are coming to an end, I believe. Just keep writing and we will keep up the good fight. This idea of take as much as you can from the helpless came from the top on down during the Bush administration. Too many smaller agencies took his lead. I am hopeful that part of the Obama Change will be for things like this. Good post!

Anonymous said...

That is just...evil.

Anonymous said...

Gary, I'm with you for most of this, but is it clear that “trying to make her ashamed” is the motivation? I assumed it was just a [bogus] cost-cutting measure. I'm not saying it's a good one; I think the analogy to other crimes, where the state pays (one doesn't have to pay, I assume, to have one's house checked over for clues after a robbery) is a good one. But is there really evidence that the reason that these kits are charged for is an active desire to create shame or is the answer a simple “don't care” or something like that. It may be that either way it's wrong, but I think one form of intent is worse than the other.

I mention this not to lighten the matter of whether it should be resolved but because I think sometimes aggressive rhetoric has a backfire effect against those whose minds one seeks to change. If you over-charge a matter (that is, if you say it was a matter of active ill intent rather than just stupidity or insensitivity that this fee happens), what you end up with sometimes is that the person who created the policy latches onto a desire to defend that they had no active intent. They may decide they are wrongly accused and defend themselves rather than blushing and backing down. So I tend to think people should speak accurately about these things and not overblow intent unless there's evidence.

If there is evidence that the policy is the sinister intent of someone who really actively wanted a culture in which women get raped but feel ashamed to go report it, etc., the proof that a government policy was able to be put in place on those grounds would be interesting in itself. I don't see you presenting such evidence, though, and I'm guessing the wording choice was just an accidental matter of zeal. That is, I'll stay clear of saying you have some active intent in having worded it that way. :)

Your bottom-line point (the last sentence of the article) is still a sound one, though, and stands on its own.

Kent Pitman

Anonymous said...

Kent - whether the state of Texas intended for women to feel ashamed doesn't matter. Shame and a reluctance to report is the consequence - unintended or otherwise. Happy days for rapists in Texas apparently

Anonymous said...

How about this idea.

A woman gets raped and is taken to a hospital. At the hospital a medical procedure is done and at the same time forensic evidence is collected as she is treated for the medical problems she has or may develop.

So when she is billed for the medical procedure done by the hospital who pays? Her health insurance! No health insurance, then the hospital or state eats the bill like everybody else that comes in without insurance.

Victims are not paying for being raped. The cost of the medical procedure is being shifted to somebody else.

Anonymous said...

Not only is it evil, it's discriminatory evil. Do the police charge the murder victim's family when they use scientific evidence, like DNA, to convict the killer? No, they do not. In fact, no police procedure is supposed to cost money in this way. It's repulsive and clearly set up to discourage the woman from prosecuting.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Kent, in Texas too much IS sinister. They also have mandatory vaccination of teenage girls for HPV. I have come to believe that in Texas, there are flagrant violations against women's rights to manage the care of their own bodies.

Some of this state's laws are very backward (into dark ages territory), but we have to consider the mentality. Their governor gives lip service for Texas to secede from the Union - Huh?! Talk about a bunch of whack-jobs -- the governance there apparently has come to believe they are a law onto themselves.

With regard to Wasila, the rumor was that there was a known rapist in their midst, and charging for the rape kits was meant to keep the women unable to mount evidence against this particular person. Not sure if it was ever proven to be more than a rumor but it makes sense in view of all the other weird thinking that happens there...

There is no reason on God's green Earth for a woman to EVER be charged for a rape kit unless every person is charged for the investigation of every crime. Tax dollars are paid by the public to maintain the police department. This is discriminatory policy against women, women who are already victims no less.

This practice is shamefully discriminatory against women -- PERIOD!!

Anonymous said...

I believe that rape is still a crime.
If a crime has been commited and reported then surely it is the responsibility of the law enforcement agencies to pay for accumulating such evidence.
Can you imagine if the scenario arose that a woman could not afford to pay for said 'rape kit'? I guess she would then be complicit in concealing a crime!
This is ludicrous. Society gone mad!

maiddy78_1 said...

Well i think this is very strange and shamefull news for the govt. administration ,how they r working n helping the victims.i m shocked to read this news but i support gary because he is awaring people and writing for the rights of the people

Peachy said...

I agree with the other blogger that posted "happy days for rapists in Texas". Baesd on what I have seen of women charging for this crime (and that is a fraction of the cases that actually occur), they have to first overcome the emotions and terror involved in the attack and then they have to face even MORE discrimination in court. The defense will make her look like a common street hooker so that his client can go free. I'm sure this must go through the mind of a woman who's been raped, and then on top of this having to pay for the evidence? It's insane. What does this say about the way women are treated in our society?

Anonymous said...

Well that just sent my blood pressure through the bloody roof. Argh!!!!!!! How... monstrous!

Anonymous said...

I suppose the proponents of charging the victim for the rape kits liken it to a victim of some other violent crime (ex. a shooting or stabbing) who required medical treatment. Who pays for the surgery and hospitalization? The victims insurance if they have it, the taxpayers if they don't.

Don't get me wrong, I find the concept of a rape victim having to fork over 1,800 bucks for a rape kit absolutely repugnant and it will undoubtedly result in less reporting of rape, but there is another aspect to this. In a way it is categorizing rape as the violent crime it is and by standardizing the method in which medical charges are compensated with other violent crimes this may actually be a positive. Maybe.

Realistically it most likely means that women won't bother reporting the crime as often, and who can blame them.

Anonymous said...

If Texas is doing this, then I hope they DO seccede. Ann Richards and Molly Ivins would BOTH be disgusted and would say so, freely, loudly and often if they knew rape victims were also having to pony up on what's already the worst day of their lives.

It turns me absolutely purple with rage.

Anonymous said...

Charging for rape kits? What's next? Charging for murder kits? Come on what is wrong with this country taking advantage of a woman who at the time the act happens is frightened, degraded, ashamed and probably took all the guts she had to report the crime because our judicial system will run her through the wringer when it goes to court. Sickening. And they wonder why some rapes never get reported.
TJonna

Anonymous said...

The current Governor of Texas is so in awe of Palin, he is becoming just like her. That is what he does. He has a career of becoming whatever is the best potential for furthering his career. He is so wrong this time. "The Base" in Texas is not going to save the day for him.
He is also mandating ultrasounds for women in their first trimester of pregnancy to dissuade them from considering the choice of abortion. He is printing up specialty car license plates for Texas, "Pro Life". He is trying to get us to pay for toll roads after we have already paid taxes to build and maintain the roads. He asks for contributions to restore the Governor's Mansion after the fire. He asks for contributions for programs for Veterans. And, if the Legislature had not stepped in, he would have refused all financial assistance from Stimulus Bill. He is the first to declare disaster and emergencies, whether from natural disasters such as hurricanes or from the Swine Flu and border reinforcement.
Yet he purports that Texas doesn't need Federal intrusion and assistance because he brought so much "big business" to Texas. Either he has "given Texas away" to big business or he is doing something other than state business with all that revenue.
Everyone believes it is too soon before elections to impeach him; I don't. I want him out NOW. However, we will have to wait for the election in about a year. Then I, and many, will vote for anyone, anyone, other than him. He is a Doofus.
Any state that charges for the rape kit would have to play Hell getting me to reimburse them for it. Go ahead, use the rape kit since I am a victim of a crime. Bill me for it. But, don't hold your breath for my check to come in.