How D.C. Police Fail Rape Victims
For this week's paper, I wrote a cover story on one young woman's crusade to secure a rape kit after she believed she had been drugged and raped at a college party. The D.C. police response to the woman's case illustrates how District rape victims can be dismissed as liars, drunks, or otherwise unworthy of an investigation:
On Saturday, Dec. 9, 2006, Hannah* woke up in her Howard University dorm room with a piece of her life missing. Hannah, a 19-year-old sophomore, had unexplained pain in her rectum and hip. Her panty liner, which she had worn the night before, was missing. Vomit dotted her gloves and coat. Her friend Kerston lay beside her in the skinny dorm room bed. Kerston told Hannah not to shower—they had to go back to the hospital to secure a rape kit. That weekend, Hannah claims that she was provided the following excuses for why she could not receive a sexual assault medical forensic examination: She was drunk; she ate a sandwich; she was a liar; she didn’t know her attacker’s last name; the police had to authorize the exam; she was outside the hospital’s jurisdiction; she wasn’t reporting a real crime; she was blacked out; she changed her story; her case was already closed.
Read the rest here.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery