The Importance of Testing Rape Kits

A multiracial group of women march against gender-based violence. Their raised hands are painted orange. Their shirts are various shades of orange, as is the background. Illustration by Valentina Talijan

The United States is experiencing a backlog of untested rape kits. Why is testing rape kits so important? Why are so many kits left untested?

“Hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits, also known as sexual assault kits (SAKs), languish in evidence storage facilities across the U.S. This backlog denies justice to victims and allows rapists the opportunity to continue to harm others. Based on research from Case Western Reserve University on Cuyahoga County’s (Ohio) backlogged rape kits, there’s strong evidence to suggest that testing these kits can prevent future rapes. This can happen only when kits are forensically tested for DNA and cases are reopened and prosecuted.”