This year, I am raising money for End the Backlog which is an initiative from the Joyful Heart Foundation founded by Mariska Hargitay. Yes, THAT Mariska, Olivia Benson of SVU.
End the Backlog aims to end the rape kit backlog, a huge but mostly unknown issue in this country.
"It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of rape kits sit untested in police department and crime lab storage facilities across the country in what is known as the rape kit backlog. Each kit represents a lost opportunity to bring healing and justice to a survivor of sexual violence and safety to a community. "
You can look up how many untested rape kits are sitting in evidence lockers in your state on http://www.endthebacklog.org/backlog/where-backlog-exists-and-whats-happening-end-it, but below are states that may interest most of you:
NJ - Unkown (crazy!)
NY - 1,981 (one of the best given population size)
CA - 13,615 (what?!) PA - 1,214
NC - a whopping 15,160 (highest of all states in which the number is known)
So what does End the Backlog do? Well, they do a lot. What I find most appealing about them is that rather than using the money to test individual rape kits, they're putting the onus right where it belongs, on legislation and law enforcement.
"Legislative campaign. We are leading a multi-year, nationwide advocacy campaign to secure policy wins that will effectively eliminate the backlog and ensure that newly collected rape kits are tested in a timely manner."
"Federal advocacy. We advocate for continued support of the federal Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grants and other critical grant programs on Capitol Hill."
"Accountability and transparency. Working with our pro bono partner Goodwin LLP, The Accountability Project has issued public records requests to law enforcement agencies and crime labs in 49 jurisdictions. So far, we have uncovered nearly 40,000 untested rape kits in 41 jurisdictions and brought to light the lack of consistent policies and procedures regarding the handling of rape kits."
Every year I bug/beg you all for donations and every year you surprise and amaze me with your generosity. Thank you all for your continued support as I try to make a very minuscule difference in the world. Help me end the backlog so we can get justice for survivors and make our country safer for women, girls, boys AND men.