At-Home Rape Kits not a 'viable alternative' to a forensic exam
The Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault joins the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) and numerous other advocates against sexual harassment, abuse, and assault, in opposing the use of "at-home rape kits" marketed by the Me Too Kit company. We believe this is a shameless and irresponsible attempt to make money off the #MeToo movement. As NAESV points out in its statement, the Me Too Kit has "not been endorsed by any other national sexual assault experts or advocacy organizations."
Here is the full statement from our friends at the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence:
The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence opposes the use of at-home rape kits and is greatly concerned about marketing of them to the general public. Me Too Kit is a company that has claimed to create the first at-home rape kit. Me Too Kit has started a waitlist for their kits on their website and developed a pilot program for colleges and universities. We are outraged by this obvious attempt to monetize the #MeToo movement, particularly in an irresponsible way that could have a disastrous impact on survivors of sexual assault.
A forensic medical exam consists of forensic evidence collection, a full medical exam, STI and pregnancy prevention options, STI treatment, and treatment for medical injuries. Access to a rape crisis center or campus advocate is available when being examined in a hospital or medical center but is obviously not included with the Me Too Kit.
A forensic exam following a rape requires a specially trained medical professional, often a sexual assault nurse examiner or forensic examiner. An exam is necessary for rape victims who choose to have their evidence collected and receive medical treatment. This kit obviously cannot provide needed medical care and other services that are available when exams are performed in a hospital or medical center. Forgoing these other much needed services, the focus of the kit seems to be largely placed on DNA identification. When 8 out of 10 rapes are committed by someone known to the victim, DNA identification is by no means the only necessary part of a forensic exam.1
We do not advise anyone to use an at-home rape kit as a viable alternative to a forensic exam. We also do not advise that any college or university encourage students to use this product or make it available for use. Me Too Kit has provided no information to explain how these kits will be admissible in court and how the proper chain of custody will be followed. Though Me Too Kit has stated that they have consulted with prosecutors who approve of their kits, they have provided no names of individual prosecutors or state and national prosecutor associations who have endorsed the product.
The Me Too Kits at-home rape kit has been denounced by sexual assault advocates across the country, including being barred for sale in Michigan.2 This kit has also not been endorsed by any other national sexual assault experts or advocacy organizations.
NAESV is the voice in Washington, DC for 56 state and territorial sexual assault coalitions and more than 1500 rape crisis centers.
1 Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, 2010- 2016 (2017)
2 https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2019/08/29/metoo-kit-diy-rape-test-michigan-ag-dana-nessel-sexual- assault/2152671001/