Texas Charges Victims for Rape Kits

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:

A Houston paper reports:

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.

Emphasis mine.

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 TexasNumerous 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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66 comments for “Texas Charges Victims for Rape Kits

  1. Ms. Annie C
    May 9, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    I think I just puked in my mouth. As a survivor of rape, I’m pretty sure I could not be held responsible for my actions if I got a fucking bill for it afterwards.

  2. May 9, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    This is really horrible. Many more women who do not have insurance are not going to report their rapes because they don’t have money to pay for the rape kits.

  3. bellareve
    May 9, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Ok, I’m LIVID.

    What can we do?

  4. horsdequestion
    May 9, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Policies like this demonstrate how important it is to have more diversity in positions of power. I doubt that women and working class people would have thought this an acceptable policy (or at least, the percentage of them relative to the percentage of white upper-middle class men)

  5. CartoonCoyote
    May 9, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    That’s absolutely fucking nuts and makes me want to punch somebody. It makes about as much sense as charging a break-in victim for fingerprint dusting.

  6. May 9, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    this policy is beyond disgusting. They don’t charge homeowners to investigate a break and enter, or banks when they are robbed. These women are being charged because rape is not taken seriously and we have a society that is content to blame the victim at every turn. I cannot imagine the horror of having to pay to investigate such a vicious crime against me. Having to deal with the violation and then fight against the state who is supposed to be protecting not exploiting must be excruciating. To me it seems almost like a backhanded way of encouraging women not to report the crimes committed against them.

  7. tinfoil hattie
    May 9, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Exactly, Renee. Are men who get beaten up charged for DNA tests or fingerprinting? No.

    Of course the only purpose is to get these whiny women who asked for it to stop “crying rape.” This’ll show those bitchezzz.

    Unapologetic, blatant woman-hate seems to be quite the fashion these days. They’re not even pretending anymore. It’s like: “Yeah, we hate you. So what?”

    Will the ACLU jump on this? I’d be interested to see. It’s clearly discrimination.

  8. Kyra
    May 9, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Fuuuuck! Don’t we pay, y’know, taxes, for the police to do things like collect evidence and go after criminals when crimes are committed? What’s next, charging the estates or next-of-kin for the autopsies of people whose deaths are suspicious? ‘Cause it can’t be cheap to have a coroner go examining someone’s dead body hunting for cause of death!

  9. UnFit
    May 9, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Didn’t Alaska do the same thing, or at least the district Sarah Palin was in charge of?

  10. Politicalguineapig
    May 9, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    *Sigh* Can someone explain why we even have a justice system if they’re going to pull shit like this?

  11. Kyra
    May 9, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Can someone explain why we even have a justice system if they’re going to pull shit like this?

    Because if we didn’t, people might start taking things into their own hands and killing their attackers, and MEN might get hurt.

  12. athomic
    May 9, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    All rapists should be neutered. The people who send out bills for trying to catch a rapist… I don’t even know where to begin. If they are so concerned with their budget why don’t states charge convicted criminals the cost of the evidentiary tests conducted in the course of investigations or prosecutions? The fact that victims can receive bills and no one thinks to charge the criminals is beyond the pale of absurdity.

  13. 10G
    May 9, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Good God, are white men (ok, men in general) so traumatized by the fact that we have a non-white president, and could have had a WOMAN as president that this is the fallout??? Or is it just a bit of the white man’s “death rattle”–either way, tell me this isn’t another piece of the perpetual backlash against women, only more vehement? Would somebody please get it through to the bully-boys, that NOBODY wants to cut off your penis and run off? Jesus!!!
    How the fuck does one sex justify hatred of such magnitude against the other? I too am livid, what CAN we do?

  14. Sara
    May 10, 2009 at 1:21 am

    10G, I don’t think this atrocity has anything to do with the recent election. This happened before the election, not as fall out for having a more diverse election. It is telling however, that only rape kits are being billed to the victim.

    The Texas attorney general contradicts himself. He said that the rape kit itself is automatically paid but women are getting bills for the rape kit. I have never heard of health insurance covering the cost of a rape kit. He also said that the CVCF would become insolvent if all rape reporting costs were covered. He also said there was a huge surplus. While each kit is expensive, I can’t imagine that there are so many rape kits being used that the cost couldn’t be covered. That is 30,000 kits. This should not be a problem.

  15. Tonya
    May 10, 2009 at 2:05 am

    This is DISGUSTING. How is this ridiculous shit allowed??? Are women’s groups in Texas speaking up? Human rights organizations? People paying for crimes against them to be investigated!?!!???! What the fuck is going on down there!!??!

    I agree with some previous commentors, this is woman hate at its worst. No shame at all by the state. Why is rape the only crime that people have to PAY for an investigation??? Ridiculous. (I’m totally jumbled cause I’m so fucking pissed)

  16. Donna H.
    May 10, 2009 at 3:12 am

    Yes, Unfit, Sarah Palin did the exact same thing while she was mayor of Wasilla; see http://tinyurl.com/5y8dh5. It occurred after she fired her first police chief Stambaugh, and hired Charlie Fannon, who submitted a budget approved by Palin which zeroed out rape kit expenditures from the police budget. Fallon claimed it would save the taxpayers $5,000 to $14,000 a year. She later maintained she never approved not charging for rape kits, but I recall during the election seeing one website which even showed her initials on the line item in the budget. There’s more info under the Wikipedia entry, “early political career of Sarah Palin.” When Alaska legislators, to their credit, found out about rape victims being charged for rape kits in the Wasilla area and other areas of Alaska, they passed legislation outlawing such charges in 2000. –A few have suggested that Palin’s motivation in not funding rape kits lie in the fact that they can include emergency contraception, which she would oppose. Whatever her reasons, I find her action despicable.

  17. May 10, 2009 at 5:54 am

    This is so illogical and so brain-breaking that I…dude. DUDE. No other victim of any other crime is expected to take on the cost of the INVESTIGATION of that crime. Period. This is so clearly a case of blatant discrimination that if Texas et al (because yeah, other states do this too, ALASKA) don’t get their asses handed to them over it, I’m going to lose that last little bit of faith I have in America. That last, tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiny bit.

  18. Az
    May 10, 2009 at 8:20 am

    This sounds to me like they’re trying to avoid having to prosecute for rape at all. This will certainly prevent women from reporting rapes.

  19. Alara Rogers
    May 10, 2009 at 9:26 am

    I have a better idea.

    Since only men commit rape (ok, women can commit rape but a rape kit wouldn’t generally do the victim of rape-by-a-woman any good — they’re designed to deal with rape-by-men), how about Texas deals with paying for rape kits by a tax on men?

    Sure, only probably between 1% and 10% of all men are rapists, but since plainly Texas doesn’t want to make *everyone* foot the bill, and since making the victims pay is appalling, how about the group that contains all the potential perpetrators be made to pay? I mean, say the cost is a million dollars to pay for all the possible kits used in a year — spread out among all the adult males in Texas, that just isn’t a lot of money per man. Much, much less than the thousand dollars charged to a victim.

    Or here’s an idea! The state has to foot the bill until they get a conviction, at which point they can confiscate the property of the perp in order to pay for the kit. If he hasn’t got $1000, take his car, take his CD collection and sell it on Ebay, take his clothes (what’s he need them for in prison?), etc. This would also disincent the police to try to pin the crime on indigent homeless people who didn’t do it but won’t be able to muster a defense, and incent the police to actually charge the guys with money that ordinarily they would overlook. And it would provide a profound incentive to actually get a conviction.

  20. May 10, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Er, what about men who are raped by men? (not that many of them go in for a rape kit, but still)

  21. 10G
    May 10, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    I’m totally with Alara on her ideas. Don’t give a shit if boys would counter with discriminatory claims. Should’ve thought of that before you started raping WOMEN.

  22. Sheelzebub
    May 10, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    This is gender based discrimination. Men who are assaulted aren’t charged for the investigation. People whose homes are broken into aren’t charged for the fingerprinting and investigation. Only women who are raped.

    And they say sexism is dead and feminism is irrelevant. Puleeze.

  23. Claire
    May 10, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    This is disgusting beyond belief. What can we do?

  24. markd
    May 10, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    well, without Palin as a whipping girl to beat on don’t expect much media attention.
    women got suckered by the media into hating another woman for a problem that exists in many states, yes, and that includes Obama’s as well.
    I hope women will see how the media manipulated so easily. This has been a problem for years and years, but they opted to use it against Palin to get women to turn on a woman. suckers say the media, laughing at how easy it is to manipulate women.

    that said a federal bill in now in effect, so this probem will settle itself. I would say the writer of this post ought to know about this bill !

  25. markd
    May 10, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Palin through her spokeswoman Maria Comella told USA Today that the governor “does not believe, nor has she ever believed, that rape victims should have to pay for an evidence-gathering test.”

    Fact check finds no evidence that Palin was intereted in charging for this kit, either to insurance or the victim.

    But it is easier to hate “that” woman that change an entrenched policy of sexism, right Donna? don’t be so easily thrown off the track of women’s advancement to “get that woman.”

  26. Bitter Scribe
    May 10, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Pal, if you’re looking for sympathy for Sarah Palin, you’ve come to the wrong place.

    Personally, I have nothing against the woman, but I could happily live my life never hearing, seeing, reading or thinking about her again.

  27. May 10, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Markd amuses me greatly on quite a few counts. In fact, I actually started counting the ways, then realized I didn’t care that much.

  28. May 10, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    ALARA ROGERS should be a Presidential advisor!! AWESOME ideas!

    I can see a problem, though: police would be incentivised to see property-owning males convicted, when the perp might actually be a poor man. Kind of like how LOTS of driving violations and parking tickets get issued (raising money) and not very many actual criminals get arrested (COSTING the state money).

  29. May 10, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Ok know that we’ve expressed our justifiable outrage what are we going to DO ABOUT IT? Like many things this needs to be something we have a coordinated effort at getting changed. Of course seeing that this is TEXAS of all places – that hasn’t met a convicted criminal (who are often innocent) they don’t like to send to the electric chair. This is the same state that sent Ann Richards packing and ushered in Bush Jr. This is the same state that supposedly wants to cede from the Union. We’re not dealing with reasonable people here and it’s going to take a STRATEGY and FOOT SOLDIERS to make inroads. So let’s get to it. What’s NOW doing about this and NARAL? Why not do PSAs and put them on YouTube. There are efforts that can made and we don’t need to get caught up in emotionalism.

    One possible caveat is that the woman may be able to meet income requirements to get the bill reduced or completely written off. This is one way those on the outside can help. If we have enough documentation and can show bias for other bills that are being covered that can be presented to the right authority and the state will have their federal funding jeopardized. Just go over their heads and the problem can be solved.

  30. beth jacobs
    May 10, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Where is equal protection under the law for women?This straight out of the far right wing interpretation of the Koran:”Five male witnesses required to convict a man of rape.”This is class actionable,supreme court,civil rights violations.

  31. May 10, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    For those asking what we do about it. . .

    I’d love to know. But I will say that while targeting Texas will help the women there, and that grassroots things at more local levels are awesome, as I said in the post, this is a problem that can’t exactly be called “nationwide” but is happening in a whole bunch of states across the country. So I personally feel like the solution is going to have to be federal — like enforcing VAWA requirements, for a start — or we’re just going to keep seeing one of these stories every year for a different town/state.

  32. markd
    May 11, 2009 at 8:56 am

    not looking for Palin anything here, but would like women to see how easlily manipulated they were; the media ONLY brought this subject to light to bring down a Woman.

    this practice has been going on for years and years in almost every state in the nation, but….TRY to get national press on the topic and you’d be spittn’ nails.

    It does factor as Logic 101 that using Palin to target on this widespread practice was to do damage to a female candidate not out of any great worry that rape vic were being abused. Trust me, this topic was never given any attention it deserved for a very long time pre Palin.

    And the fact is : Obama’s state had as many or more problems as Alaska did with this issue.

    And Cara, rather than being annoyed with uncomfortable truths about sexism in the media and the fact that women so readily fell for it, why not work to be sure that women are put on alert to this in the future? Watch out for get the B*tC* applied to ANY female running for potus.

    And also, i would helpfully suggest you research the new federal law on this issue that is very helpful on this topic.

  33. May 11, 2009 at 9:18 am

    but would like women to see how easlily manipulated they were

    Wait . . . I thought that women were manipulators! Please to explain? Oh wait, that’s right . . . we’re evil manipulators, but we’re also really stupid. LOLZ.

    And Cara, rather than being annoyed with uncomfortable truths about sexism in the media and the fact that women so readily fell for it, why not work to be sure that women are put on alert to this in the future?

    OMG YOU GOT ME. I would never, ever call out media sexism against Sarah Palin despite how very much I hate her with a burning passion! Ever! Also, when women deny other women rape kits, we should ignore it! Because to talk about policy that a woman is directly responsible for while failing to talk about a policy that a male is far more indirectly responsible for, especially when the woman-hating woman is running on a pseudo-“feminist” marketing strategy, is sexism! How could I not see before that women denying other women rape kits is totally like the sisterhood?

    *cries because some random internet dood filled her little woman brain with truths about how much she hates herself and took away her feminist card*

    Get off the thread, Markd. You’re a fucking bore. Also, I believe that the “new federal law” you’re talking about is, you know, VAWA, which was mentioned in the post and is obviously not being properly enforced, thus allowing the problem to thrive, despite the fact that the rape kit requirement was supposed to go into effect earlier this year. So unless you plan on telling me that there’s some OTHER law I missed while giving me, I don’t know, a name of said law, stop acting like I don’t know what I’m talking about because you didn’t bother to read the post.

  34. Alara Rogers
    May 11, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Er, what about men who are raped by men? (not that many of them go in for a rape kit, but still)

    Give them a credit on their rape tax.

    But actually I like my idea about making the perp pay for it much better. it’s true, it would incentivize the police to try to pin it on a guy with property. But right *now* they have enormous incentive to pin it on a poor guy, because that’s who the cultural meme claims is likely to be a rapist. Balance the two tendencies against each other, and either you’ll get more convictions of the guilty and fewer of the innocent, or the innocent guys who get charged will be much more likely to have the resources to fight their conviction — because right now, guys who didn’t do it are getting charged and they’re too poor to fight back, and guys who did do it but are rich are totally ignored because a rich man is biologically incapable of raping a woman, due to the fact that all women want sex with all rich men all the time.

    And if men with property start having to pay for rape kits, it will only be a matter of time before there is such public outrage that the *state* won’t just pony up that eventually we’ll get back to where we should be, which is, the state covers it.

  35. Scott the Obscure
    May 11, 2009 at 9:39 am

    The Texas Legislature is in session, tho it may be too late to to do anything effective before they adjourn for the next two years June 1st. The House opens for business this morning at 10 AM, the Senate at 11. I’m on too many groups “ask for $$$” lists already, but this has me pissed enough to contact my state Rep and Senator. Anyone else in Texas should do the same. But, like I said, it’s likely too late for effective legislative action, and it looks like the executive branch is going to say they just don’t have that discretion.

    Long run, well, the House is all but tied between the parties, and even with a governor’s race, mid-term party workings a lot more sedate and comprehensible (no “two-step” bs). It should be possible to get this in the Dem platform, and, if we start early enough, get the candidates to sign off on it. then it’s just a matter of feet to the fire, but I can’t imagine anyone wanting to hear at a press conference or debate, “SO why are you in favor of making crime victims pay their own investigative costs?”

  36. markd
    May 11, 2009 at 9:42 am


    here is information on the new federal rule that went into effect this past Jan.

    watch for it to have effects this year! and not only to pay for rape kits but to aid those who want to send rapists to jail!

    re your flame, my goodness what in the world are you talking about. who said woemn were evil? I said the press used this issue to hit at a woman. Where exactly was this issue before Palin? Oh yes…not reported on nationally. I love a feminist site that has blind hatred for another woman… and that is from your text!

  37. May 11, 2009 at 10:11 am

    OH LOOK, MARKD IS TALKING ABOUT VAWA JUST LIKE I SAID. And still felt the need to provide me with a link to further indicate that I don’t know what I’m talking about, but really just proving that a) he’s not reading what I said or b) actually has researched the law far less himself to not realize uh, the name of said law even when it’s in his provided link! And ignores the part about how it’s already in effect and clearly not being enforced.

    Buh-bye, Mark. It was fun, but I have things to do that don’t involve responding to a dude who thinks that all women are a monolithic group that should love each other, no matter how much they support policies that kill women, or else they’re not feminist.

  38. May 11, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Give them a credit on their rape tax.

    Uh, yeah, I also like your idea of charging the perp a million times better. Like whoa.

  39. thepixinator
    May 11, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Exactly! If someone broke into my house and stole my money, my passport and my laptop I wouldn’t have to pay the police to fingerprint my apartment or check around ot the pawn shops to find the perps. Rape kits don’t even have anything to do with victim’s compensation; they are EVIDENCE COLLECTION kits and as such are expenses to be treated like any other crime-solving tool. If I shot the good ol’ boys who billed me for a rape kit I wouldn’t have to pay for the gunshot residue test or the test that matched my gun to the bullets I plugged the weasels with. This just goes to show that some men and women still think that rape victims were deserving of it and that they were just having sex, and not being brutally and violenty attacked.

  40. SMB
    May 11, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    “But actually I like my idea about making the perp pay for it much better.”

    I’m a PA in Washington state and this is how it’s handled in the jurisdictions I’m familiar with. At the time of conviction it’s simply tacked on to the judgment and sentence as restitution. If there isn’t a conviction the State bears the cost. This policy of charging the victim is beyond belief. I’m truly shocked that it’s as widespread as it is. Well, maybe not.

  41. William
    May 11, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Or here’s an idea! The state has to foot the bill until they get a conviction, at which point they can confiscate the property of the perp in order to pay for the kit.

    Baaaaaaad idea there Alara. Asset forfeiture tends to lead to greater police abuses, not lesser ones. Sure, the idea you proposed would just charge for rape kits, but once the police find a stream of revenue they’ll expand it just like they did when they started taking property in the drug war. Besides, your theory about police moving from pinning crimes on the poor doesn’t really pan out in practice: http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/05/05/texas.police.seizures/

    Its not only a problem in Texas, either. In the southwest in general there have been problems with police pulling over Mexican immigrants and migrant workers because they’re known to carry their money around. Once they pull them over they accuse them of being involved in smuggling, confiscate their cash, and hope that the people involved don’t have the resources to show up to court and make a challenge.

  42. E.M. Russell
    May 11, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Sorry to bring it up again, but Markd… Blind hatred?? BLIND?! Did you HEAR half of what came out of Palin’s mouth? She was an embarassment!

  43. markd
    May 11, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    @e.m Russell
    oh i’ve been banned from the site. at least my last comment to clarify was not posted.
    what came out of Palin’s mouth was not cause for “hating her with a burning pasion” as said Cara. what came out of Palin’s mouth were Republican stands.

    And the fact she bumbled her public speaking is no reason to “hate her with a burning passion.” She is a female and females have a very well-toned ability to hate one another for crimes they tolerate in males all day long–tolerate that is without “burning hatred.”

    I hope Care you have the honesty to publish this. it is very necessary conversation.

  44. May 11, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    HAHAHAHAHA. Okay seriously, that is the last one I’m letting through, because I just love this guy telling women what they do and don’t do, and that women are always at each others throats with their little catfights, and what conversations we need to be having on a feminist site. It’s hilarious. As is his inference that the only person in the world I hate is Sarah Palin, and that for some reason (SEXISM), I don’t hate with the same burning passion George Bush, John McCain, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfield, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity or a whole other slew of guys with the same opinion. I just hate that one lone woman.

  45. May 11, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    But seriously though, this is a serious thread about women being charged for their own rape kits. Back on topic, and I swear that I will not let the asshole who wants to derail that conversation (while telling us what ones we’d be better off having because he’s concerned) get in the way any further.

  46. Ms. Annie C
    May 11, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    As amused as I am about the markd thing (bwahahahaha) and as much as I totally love the idea of the rape tax, just one question that a few seem to be raising– what can we do about this right now? This obviously isn’t a huge deal in the public eye due to the lack of press at the moment, so what can we do to make this a huge deal?
    I don’t mean that it isn’t a huge deal, I mean… oh hell, you get it.

  47. Claire
    May 11, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    To everyone who actually wants to do something about this: I suggest a letter writing campaign. Let’s get in touch with congress about it. They may not listen initially, but if we get enough people involved, send copies of our letters to the media/post them on our various blogs/have other people post them on *their* various blogs/facebook pages/elsewhere on the webosphere, I think we may start to see some change or at least acknowledgement. Obviously there are other things we can do in addition to this, but it’s a start. Emails and phone calls are good too, but a letter (especially handwritten) commands more attention. What do you guys think?

  48. Ms. Annie C
    May 11, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Hoorah Claire, I totally agree. Can we get something on youtube about this? I know youtube can be rather ridiculous at times, but I think it goes without saying that it’s a good way to get things into the public mind. Putting something together wouldn’t exactly be rocket science but it would be great to get some feedback before starting anything. Any suggestions, feedback, whatnot?

  49. Claire
    May 12, 2009 at 12:32 am

    I hadn’t even thought of youtube, but that’s a great idea! I lack a camera right at the moment, but if someone with the means could put together some sort of commercial/announcement it would be awesome. It’ll give us even more access to the public and even more possiblilities for blog pimpage (after all, somone is more likely to watch a short little video than to read a big block of text. ) Once we get this rolling we could also do a series of people reading their letters on camera. Ah, internet, how do I love thee, let me count the ways…

    It would also be great if we could find information on which states and areas have this problem. We know of texas, but I hear it’s not the only one?

  50. evil_fizz
    May 12, 2009 at 1:34 am

    William, I am fairly confident that Alara is being more than a little tongue-in-cheek here. It’s just another guest at the party of really bad ideas.

  51. May 12, 2009 at 1:53 am

    Since this will have a disproportionate effect on poor women it occurs to me that maybe the Southern Poverty Law Center might be willing to take it on. We should also be alerting the ACLU, since this is a pretty clear violation of the civil rights of the victims (essentially denies the right to properly prosecute an assailant to anyone unable to pay for the evidence collection).

    Those are the first things I can think of in terms of things we can do.

  52. Ms. Annie C
    May 12, 2009 at 2:48 am

    I too am lacking in camera, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be a Holy Grail quest to wrangle one up around here somewhere– if teenyboppers with terrible hair and boomboxes spouting horrific excuses for electronica can do it, so can we! I guess my main point is that if we posted a video (or anything, really) about it , there should probably be an ending line– what you can do about it. Yeah, we need to scream and shout (or twist and shout, if you’re in the mood), but whatever “public message” ends up getting out there should end with a “this is what you can do, so hop to it!”. I’m all for complaining and I think it’s safe to say that we’re fucking livid, but that really isn’t going to do a whole lot of good unless there’s some sort of direction. So we have the letter/email/phone call business, Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU (thanks CassandraSays– I know I’ll be checking that out fer sher)… I think that’s enough right there but there’s really no such thing as “enough”. Claire, you brought up a very good point– where else is this load of crap happening? I’m off to bed at the moment– damn work tomorrow– but does anyone else know anything about anywhere else this is going on? I find it hard to believe that it’s only Texas.

  53. Alara Rogers
    May 12, 2009 at 8:37 am

    William, I am fairly confident that Alara is being more than a little tongue-in-cheek here. It’s just another guest at the party of really bad ideas.

    Yeah, sorry, sometimes situations like this bring out the really dark streak in my sense of humor.

    Without a doubt the best solution for the problem is, in fact, make the state pay the goddamn rape kit fees. Last I checked, women were taxpayers in Texas, so why is a crime that is disproportionately committed against women being charged to the victims, when investigations of crimes that occur against men and women are paid for by the state? I mean, do they bill dead people’s estates for the autopsy and forensics to identify their murderers?

    I’m simply taking the fact that apparently they don’t want to do this and generating *new* nifty-sounding bad ideas that are horrible, yet fairer than the current situation. But no, in real life I am in favor of the state paying the bill.

  54. William
    May 12, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Sorry about that, I’ll chalk up my misinterpretation to the internet being a poor conduit for sarcasm and me being an idjit. ;)

  55. Bec H.
    May 12, 2009 at 10:40 am

    I saw this on CNN a few days ago and saw red. I live in Texas and am a rape survivor. I was raped when I was fourteen and I have no idea if my parents were billed for the rape kit, because they would have never told me, as I had enough on mind.

    If I’d seen a bill though, it would have gotten firmly lodged up the ass of the state Attorney General.

    For those of you who live in Texas, you go to http://www.house.state.tx.us/resources/faq.htm to find out who your rep is. And flood them with letters.

  56. james
    May 12, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    It saddens me that my home state cannot elect any leader worth a damn lately. Women are half the population and in this economy are loosing less of the jobs so have more of the disposable income if any. If you want change then go after the money, it is sad but it works. Flood the state with letters. Letters to the editor, the chamber of commerce, the large industrial corporations based in Texas, and the various levels of government. Tell them all the same thing, that you will not spend money in Texas or you will not purchace anything from Texas based companies, or both, PERIOD. State the change yoiu demand clearly and then do not buy a dell computer or go to south padre, cancel your flight on Southwest Airlines, then carry out the threat. Send proof to the politicians of your actions, it is the equivalent of a kick in the balls and it will work.

  57. Raging Contradiction
    May 13, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    In this case they do NOT have any of the facts much less all of them. By requirement of law, Rape Kits are ordered and paid for by the law enforcement agency that requests the evidence be collected. The law enforcement agency then submits the bill for the rape kit to Texas Crime Victims Compensation. This requirement that the bill go through the law enforcement agency first is not the fault of the compensation program it is a legislated requirement. In the end CVC does pay for the rape kit. CVC can not control how, when, or who the hospitals bill. The problem is with the individual hospital billing system not automatically separating the charges for the Kit from charges for the care of the victim and then following through on the billing of the kit to the agency who requested it. The Texas Crime Victim”s Compensation program is one of the best in the nation. Each and every qualified victim receives a fund of up to $50,000.00 to cover medical, counseling, lost wages etc with a total of 32 separate benefits. The job that the done by the Victim Advocates, and staff of these city, county and state agencies is a thankless one. Rather then taking one case out of context perhaps reviewing the totality of what is done by these people each and everyday is a more appropriate response.

  58. May 13, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    I was charged for my evidence collection kit, as are many women. The other thing is that even in a state (or city, or hospital) where you are not charged due to law or policy, that does not mean every cost you incur by setting foot in the hospital is covered. You can still be charged for one or more tests, for the time a doctor stepped into the room, etc.

    There are grassroots things we can do as well as political. There are womyn at Ohio State University working to create a fund for survivors to help cover these costs. It’s something to do that immediately impacts the lives of survivors, helping out outside of a law that would mandate free evidence collection kits and all other costs incurred.

    feminist love,

  59. Emma
    May 13, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Victims are charged for their own rape kits in Japan too. It’s only (!) about 20 dollars, but yeh, pretty outrageous really

  60. May 14, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    There have been quite a few stories circulating on the web about rape victims in Texas being charged for rape kits. These stories are NOT true. Here is a notice from the Office of the Attorney General to crime victim advocates about the news story that started it all: http://www.oag.state.tx.us/victims/advocate_notice.shtml. TAASA will have an open letter to survivors regarding this issue posted on our blog soon.

  61. May 14, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    p.s. I should probably explain that TAASA is the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.

  62. May 15, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    The Executive Director of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault wrote an open letter to Texas sexual assault survivors regarding this issue on our blog.


    The letter talks about the numerous problems with the news story as well as the fact that this is not, as far as we at TAASA have witnessed, a recurring problem in Texas.

  63. Gabs
    September 14, 2009 at 9:09 am

    this is incredible. Not like amazing but the fact that they would allow someone to even pay up for such an event. it’s almost as if they are charging for crime!!!

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