UPDATE: Word has since come in that those media outlets originally reporting on this story got it wrong. Texas, apparently, does NOT charge victims for rape kits. Read more here.
Via Think Progress, this is absolutely disgusting and obscene. CNN reports that rape victims in Texas are being charged for their own rape kits, to the tune of well over $1,000 no less:
Attorney General’s spokesman Jerry Strickland said the crime victim fund is enforcing strict guidelines imposed by the legislature as to which bills are paid and which victims are sent a denial notice.
Otherwise, he said that fund could become “insolvent.”
He said state law is clear that crime victims must exhaust all other potential funding sources, such as local police or their own health insurance.
“The legislature set it up that way,” said Strickland.
When asked for a number of how many denial letters had been sent out to Texas rape victims in the past, Strickland did not have an answer after checking with his crime victims’ compensation office workers.
Yes, the law is apparently set up so that it’s a rape victim’s responsibility to figure out how to pay for her own rape kit. Not the state’s. And this is despite the fact that millions and millions of dollars sit untouched in the fund.
I know what it’s like to be raped. But I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to be raped and then charged a ridiculous sum of money as a direct result. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be raped and then be billed for it several months later. It absolutely churns my stomach, though.
The victim featured in this case has had her bills dropped by the hospital as a result of the media attention. But how many women have not gone to the media and just paid? How many didn’t go the media and had their credit ruined because they couldn’t pay? And how many will fall into both categories after this point?
Further, we know that this is a problem that goes beyond Texas. Numerous states reportedly charge victims, despite the fact that it violates conditions of receiving grants under VAWA. And the real rub is that governments largely get their power to charge rape victims without attention due to the rape culture that breeds shame and stigma, and therefore keeps victims quiet.
Thanks to Renee for the link
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