Methodist Dallas Hospital will now be providing rape kits for those who are attacked, one of only three hospitals in the area to do so. When people are sexually assaulted, it can be difficult for them to report their attacks, especially when they are unsure of what to do or where to go. The expansion of services for those who have been raped will be a vital tool in terms of not only combating rape, but ensuring the safety and protection of those who have been victimized. This is an important move forward in the battle against sexual assault, and demonstrates the problems of policy and bureaucracy in effectively dealing with sexual assault as a national epidemic.
Rape kits are particularly important because so often hospitals are not adequately equipped to provide victims with them, and because time is of the essence in their dispensation. The process, vital to the identification of perpetrator, can often take upwards of four hours, and by needing to go to a different hospital, undoubtedly far away, victims of sexual assault are further burdened by an additional trip when they are already emotionally distraught. By adding an additional hospital where Dallas residents can seek treatment, the number of people who are harmed by the lack of locations able to provide this service is somewhat mitigated.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so the h ospital’s decision comes just in time to acknowledge that sexual assault is an incredible problem in the United States and around the world. One in 5 women and one in 71 men have been raped in their lifetimes, and cases like the one in Steubenville Ohio, or the more recent incident of the California teenager who committed suicide after being assaulted shows that sexual assault is a devastating and unfettered problem that is not adequately addressed in our country.
The incredible delay in the House of Representatives of the passage of the Violence Against Women Act shows that while sexual assault might be seen as an imperative problem to combat in theory, it is not always a policy priority in practice. These issues must be addressed: Our dangerous climate of sexual assault is not just a problem of sexual assault, but a lack of prioritizing the policy and bureaucratic concerns that make sexual assault a problem that is ignored and undermine effective solutions.
The hospital’s decision to provide rape kits will make the lives of sexual assault survivors better, and is a turning point in the importance of sexual assault being seen not only as a cultural problem, or a problem isolated to those who have been sexually assaulted, but a policy problem. We can only hope that more hospitals, institutions, and people work hard to prioritize the needs of sexual assault survivors, and turn the tide of rape culture in our country, alongside those at Methodist Dallas Hospital.