Joyful Heart in the News

Rape survivors face resistance in fight to test rape kit backlog

May 29, 2014
Meredith Clark

After San Francisco resident Heather Marlowe was drugged and raped at the city’s annual Bay to Breakers race in May 2010, she trusted local police to process her rape kit –the  evidence collected during a forensic exam – and update her if any leads turned up. When they didn’t call for more than a year, she began researching why.

Marlowe, a 32-year-old writer and performer, discovered that women in cities across the country, from California to Memphis to Miami, have been waiting for police to process their rape kits – sometimes for decades. To prompt the police to test her kit, Marlowe wrote “The Haze,” a one-woman play about her experience,  to draw attention to the situation she and hundreds of thousands of other sexual assault survivors are facing.

“My kit wasn’t getting processed, so [my play] was a way for me to be public about it in a way that brought people together as an audience and have a dialogue,” Marlowe told msnbc .

Marlowe has also become an activist for clearing the rape kit backlog in San Francisco. “It has felt at times like unless I took it upon myself to organize a core of people to keep moving this issue forward, there was no place to go,” she told msnbc.

To read more and watch further interviews, visit MSNBC's website.

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