Erykah Badu, an R&B singer/songwriter who turned the industry inside-out with her languid, jazzy persona, will donate a portion of her concert proceeds to test backlogged rape kits in Chicago.
In 2009, about 11,300 untested rape kits turned up in the Detroit Police Department storage. 11,300 unresolved rape cases, and just as many victims. The singer’s contribution will go to the African American 490 Challenge, named as such because that’s how much it costs to test a single rape kit—$490.
Fortunately, the majority of the kits, about 10,000 of them, have been tested. But the remaining 1,300 comes to a grand total of $637,000, a monetary gap that Erykah Badu will close with her August 12th concert in Detriot.
The donation is so important, because it raises awareness for the issue that has otherwise been neglected. The federal government does not enforce the tracking and testing of rape kits, even though some members of Congress have tried to pass legislations which said just that. Some states, however, have tried to fill the gaping hole of authority by making reforms to end the backlog and help the victims who have been left with no justice.
Case Western University has released a report on recent results from Ohio’s Cuyhoga County, which offered valuable insight to the nature of attackers. For example, a surprising number of the rape cases were actually committed by serial rapists, and that a sexual offender is very likely to have a previous offense, and assault again.
It is so important to test the rape kits as they come in, otherwise backlogs like those in Chicago will only continue to expand. Nobody can be sure how many untested kits there are, because there is no system to track them, and no federal law to change that fact. It is also vital to mention that only one out of every six rape victims will report the rape, and if there is no report, there isn’t even a rape kit to track.
Erykah Badu’s generosity in not only donating money, but lending her name and status for the effort of finishing what was left unresolved for such an important cause is huge, and greatly appreciated. Maybe her contribution is what was needed to push for a change in the system, on the federal, state, and individual level.