MNCASA Warns Public About MeToo Rape Kits
MNCASA Warns Public About MeToo Rape Kits
Wednesday, September 5, 2019: The Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault opposes the use of at-home forensic evidence collection kits (commonly referred to as “rape kits”) and is greatly concerned that they are being marketed to the public, particularly on college campuses. MeTooKit is a company that claims to have created the first Sexual Assault Evidence Kit for at-home use. MeTooKit has started a waitlist for their kits on their website and developed a pilot program for colleges and universities. We are discouraged by this obvious attempt to monetize the #MeToo movement, particularly in such an irresponsible way with potential disastrous impacts on victims/survivors of sexual assault.
Both federal and state law dictate how a forensic medical exam must be offered to victims/survivors of sexual assault. A forensic medical exam is available at no cost to any and all victims/survivors of sexual assault. This exam, conducted by a specially trained medical professional, has a dual role:
- provide medical treatment to the patient and
- collect and preserve any forensic evidence that might be present.
In addition to preserving critical elements such as chain of custody, confidentiality, and admissibility in court, a forensic medical exam provides access to STI and pregnancy prevention options and treatment. It also provides access to a trained, confidential sexual assault counselor (commonly known as an advocate). Advocates are trained, confidential people who provide free information, resources, and support. A forensic medical exam can be completed even if the victim/survivor chooses not to report their sexual assault to law enforcement.
These crucial resources and privacy protections are not included with an at-home sexual assault evidence kit. This kit cannot provide needed medical care and other services that are available with a forensic medical exam. Forgoing these other much needed services, the focus of the kit seems to be largely placed on DNA identification, with no guarantee that potential evidence will be admissible in court. Additionally, when 8 out of 10 rapes are committed by someone known to the victim/survivor, DNA identification is by no means the only necessary part of a forensic exam.
At-home rape kits are not a viable alternative to a forensic medical exam.
MNCASA understands that MeTooKits has reached out to some colleges and universities with an offer of donated kits that can be shipped to their school. We do not advise that any college or university encourage students to use this product or make it available for use. Confidential advocacy and medical forensic response is available across the State of Minnesota.
Jude Foster, MNCASA’s Statewide Medical Forensic Policy Program Coordinator stated: “We want to send a clear message to the public that these kits are not a reasonable alternative to a forensic medical exam, nor do they provide access to the confidential resources and support provided by a sexual assault advocate.“
Lindsay J. Brice, MNCASA’s Law and Policy Director, stated “We are worried that the claim that these kits will result in admissible evidence is misleading at best, and have serious concerns about the company’s ability to protect victim confidentiality. Victim confidentiality is protected by both state and federal law during forensic medical exams, and are available at no cost even if a victim chooses not to report to law enforcement.”
The MeTooKits at-home rape kit has been denounced by sexual assault advocates across the country, including being barred for sale in Michigan. This kit has also not been endorsed by any national sexual assault experts or advocacy organizations.
MNCASA members are community based advocacy centers who offer free and confidential services to victims/survivors of sexual violence—available 24/7 throughout Minnesota. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence you can find your local advocacy center at rapehelpmn.org or by contacting us.
For over 40 years, the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA) has provided leadership and resources for sexual assault programs and allies to prevent sexual violence while promoting a comprehensive, socially just response for all victim/survivor. We support, convene, and collaborate with sexual assault programs, advocates, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers to promote a more victim-centered response to sexual violence, and increase effective criminal justice. We believe sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, oppression of people with disabilities, religious oppression, and ageism are among the root causes of sexual violence. MNCASA is committed to challenging and changing institutions, issues, practices and policies that promote these systems of oppression.