Samantha Bee Slams States Over Rape Kit Backlog

The ‘Full Frontal’ host wonders if lawmakers and police are auditioning for ‘Hoarders: Rape Kit Edition.’
Mar 22, 2016·
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

“A traumatizing, invasive medical procedure for collecting evidence—and then collecting dust as they sit around untested for years.”

That description of the roughly 400,000 rape kits stuck in police evidence rooms across the United States is how comedian and Full Frontal host Samantha Bee kicked off a searing segment during her show on Monday night regarding unexamined rape kits.

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As seen in the video above, Bee featured several clips of news reports about the thousands of untested rape kits nationwide and brought her usual satirical wit to the issue. “You’re not auditioning for Hoarders: Rape Kit Edition,” she chides.

Just in case viewers think the backlog is the only challenge facing victims of sexual assault, Bee asks, “Is there anything worse than putting a woman through a four-hour rape exam and then just stuffing the evidence in a closet?” It turns out that in every state, it’s legal to destroy a rape kit before the statute of limitations expires—unless a woman lets a police department know that she wants the kit to be preserved.

Bee also turns the spotlight on public officials whose decisions haven’t made getting justice for rape survivors any easier. Although Georgia’s Pursuing Justice for Rape Victims Act, which would have ensured that rape kits were processed quickly, had bipartisan support in the Georgia House, state Sen. Renee Unterman blocked the bill in March, Bee says.

“Are you just pissed that someone else wrote the law instead of you? Or are you in the pocket of big rape? I don’t know!” she wonders.

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Activists nationally are pushing for a “bill of rights” for sexual assault survivors, which would prohibit the destruction of rape kits before states’ statute of limitations expire, among other measures.

But that kind of law does no good if law enforcement officials convince victims that they weren’t raped. Bee shares Idaho sheriff Craig Rowland’s interview with a local news station in which he suggests that after law enforcement questions alleged rape victims, they often find women are just making things up. “Things went too far, and someone got scared,” Rowland says.

“Things went too far, and someone got scared? That’s what rape is!” an outraged Bee says. “Most rapists are not college boys who were confused about consent that one time. They’re serial rapists, and testing old rape kits is how you catch them,” she adds. “Testing these kits is actually making your job easier. What more do we need to do, put a toy surprise in there like a Cracker Jack box?”

Bee ends the clip by thanking all the lawmakers who pass bipartisan legislation to address the rape-kit backlog, and then she reminds viewers of the importance of local elections. “Remember, local elections are a lot like rape kits. No one really wants to pay attention to them, but if you bother to open them up, you might just get rid of someone who’s been screwing everyone in town,” she says.