Mariska Hargitay’s new HBO documentary about untested rape kits would make her Law & Order: SVU alter ego proud

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which means it’s almost time for I am Evidence, an upcoming HBO documentary produced by Law & Order: SVU actress Mariska Hargitay. As a much-needed part of the conversation around sexual assault, the film looks at the epidemic of untested rape kits in America and considers how society can better support survivors of sexual assault. Because — let’s be honest — we need to do more.

Currently, an estimated hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits sit in police storage around the country, according to The Huffington Post. (Yes, you read that right. Hundreds of thousands.) It’s bad enough that sexual assault survivors are often forced to pay for their own rape kits, but the fact that so many of them go untested is completely unacceptable.

"To me, the backlog is one of the clearest and most shocking demonstrations of how we regard these crimes in our society," Hargitay says in the documentary. "Testing rape kits sends a fundamental and crucial message to victims of sexual violence: You matter. What happened to you matters. Your case matters."

Now, I Am Evidence — which airs Monday, April 16th at 8 p.m. EST on HBO — takes a look at this massive problem that reduces trauma survivors to boxes of evidence that remain largely untouched.

"The fact of the matter is, if we have DNA testing, if we have the ability to fix this problem and we don't test these kits, we're saying that sexual assault is not important," Hargitay continues. "I want survivors to feel heard and know that they matter, and that violence against women matters, and that we walk in hand with you to a better way of life for everyone."

We couldn’t agree more with Olivia Benson, erm, Mariska Hargitay. And we love how she used her passion for her work to pursue much-needed change in the real world.

Testing rape kits is *beyond* crucial. Not only can it help confirm rapists’ identities, it can also help police track down serial rapists. Which, let’s be honest, is a critical step in protecting more people from becoming victims of sexual assault.

We’re proud of Mariska Hargitay for shedding light on this nationwide problem that demands our immediate attention.

Watch the trailer for I Am Evidence here:

Will you be watching I Am Evidence on Monday? We’ll be tuning in for sure.

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