SACRAMENTO (KPIX 5) — Sexual assault survivors gathered at the state capitol Tuesday to promote three pending bills in the legislature that aim to reduce rape kit backlog in the state.
Activists want to raise awareness about the issue and help survivors receive the justice they deserve.
The process of collecting DNA for a rape kit is second only to the assault itself.
The kits include envelopes for underwear, fingernail clippings and fluids.
“So that’s the speculum goes in the vagina and opens up,” explained Dr. Angela Vickers, the Medical Director of the sexual assault program for Sacramento County. “This is the anuscope. This comes out. Then I can look inside to see if there’s any injuries and collect swabs.”
They are only part of what an assault survivor provides for a rape kit. There’s also the interview.
“It is an intimate, invasive interview talking about what happened to the patient, talking about their past medical history which includes sexual history and drug history,” said Vickers.
Vickers has done rape exams on women, men and children.
“We take photographs of the entire body, as far as the different injuries,” said Vickers. “And we take photographs of the genitals and the anus area.”
Thousands of women, men and children in California have endured the invasion of a rape exam after a sexual assault, only to find their kits never get tested. Currently, it is not known how many kits haven’t tested or why.
But there is a bill in Sacramento get that information: AB 41 is sponsored by San Franciso State Assemblyman David Chiu.
“It simply requires law enforcement agencies to tell us as a state, to tell the department of justice through a database, how many kits are out there that are not tested,” said Chiu. “And for those kits that are untested, why are they untested.”
A poll by KPIX 5 shows 84 percent of Californians are in favor of AB 41, but it still might not become law.
“Last year this very bill died. The year before that, a similar bill died,” said Chiu.
The only group that is openly against the bill is the California Sheriff’s Association. The organization claims it’s too expensive, even though a representative told KPIX 5 they have no idea how much it would actually cost.
Every time the bill gets to the senate appropriations committee, it disappears. It has never been brought to a vote.
This year, the bill is back in that committee. And again, it might not see the light of day. KPIX 5 asked what people can do.
“The chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee is Senator Lara,” said Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego). “And I think that’s an appropriate letter to write, phone call to make to support this coming out.”
A spokesman for State Senator Lara released a statement saying, “The Senate Appropriations Committee does not comment on the merits of pending bills.”
If the committee does not vote on the bill by September 1, it is officially dead once again.