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In 2013, the Memphis Police Department admitted to having at least 12,374 untested rape kits in storage. Rape kits are collected from victims immediately following their assaults. They contain biological evidence that can solve crimes — if the evidence is tested for DNA.
This phenomenon is often called a “backlog,” which implies passivity. However, in reality, law enforcement agencies decided that these were not crimes worth pursuing. This raises questions about whether rape is illegal in theory but not in practice.
People for the Enforcement of Rape Laws is a program of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center to monitor law enforcement responses to sexual violence. Our goal is to end the law enforcement and political practices that effectively decriminalize sexual violence. To this end, we connect victims with information about their rights and equip individuals with tools to advocate for themselves and others and advocate for fair criminal justice policies. We urge you to learn more about America’s hidden rape crisis, where it has been exposed, and why it matters. We invite you to take action and support our efforts to make sure law enforcement takes rape seriously.