When Mariska Hargitay identifies you as the perp of the week, you better lace up your Nikes and gets tah runnin’. The woman is a pro at baggin’ baddies and making sure justice prevails. I mean, come on — she’s been doing it for fourteen drama-drenched seasons on Law & Order: SVU!
Which might be part of the reason why Hargitay is a champion for crime victims (particularly of abuse) off-screen, too. In 2004, she established the Joyful Heart Foundation, which provides support to survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. In 2012, Hargitay campaigned for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which was successfully extended by President Obama earlier this year. Now, the ying to Chris Meloni’s yang is working to get law enforcement agencies to brush the dust off of a major national backlog of untested rape kits.
“They overcome the terrible, misplaced social stigma of being the victim of sexual violence, they overcome the warnings sometimes uttered by the rapist to keep silent, they overcome the suggestions that these issues ought not to be spoken of, and they speak up. The forensic exam of their bodies, the crime scene, typically takes four to six hours. The evidence is then collected in a “Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit” – a rape kit.
… And yet, hundreds of thousands of times, a decision is made not to process the evidence. Too difficult to prosecute, too murky, too expensive — not a priority.”
Word on the street is that Hargitay has recently been meeting with directors and producers in hopes of shooting a documentary on the subject of neglected rape kits in the next few months as well.
“When you don’t test a rape kit, it sends the message that’s it’s not a serious crime, and I’m beyond outraged,” she was overheard saying.
Watch out, lazy crime labs. Hell hath no fury like Detective Olivia Benson scorned.
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