NJCASA: “‘MeToo Kits’ Have Inherent Flaws in Forensic Evidence Collection, Are Not Supported By the Coalition.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 30, 2019
Lawrenceville, N.J. – The New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA) strongly opposes the creation, purchase, and distribution of “MeToo Kits.”
The at-home, self-performed forensic evidence collection kits (commonly referred to as ‘rape kits’) are currently being marketed to colleges and universities, several of which are reportedly participating in a pilot program.
“We believe that the marketing of these at-home ‘MeToo Kits’ is disingenuous at best and dangerous at worst,” said Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of NJCASA. “We recognize that our current system of collecting evidence from victims is not flawless. That said, in the state of New Jersey, only a trained forensic nurse examiner can collect evidence following a sexual assault in a way that will preserve critical elements like chain of custody, confidentiality, and court admissibility. Furthermore, forensic nurse examiners help ensure that other medical needs, such as prophylaxis, treatment of physical injuries, referrals to ongoing counseling and mental health resources are also addressed, and victims who present at hospitals in N.J. are able to receive the unique services of Confidential Sexual Violence Advocates (CSVAs) if they so choose. Additionally, forensic medical examinations are provided free of charge in the state of N.J., unlike the ‘MeToo Kit.’
“We certainly can understand the ideals of survivor choice and autonomy that the ‘MeToo Kit’ markets itself on,” Teffenhart continued. “But we believe it is reckless and irresponsible to not be pairing the positive goals of survivor autonomy with responsible practice in handling incredibly sensitive evidence. We recognize that these kits are being marketed in a way that plays off of fears many parents may have when sending their children to college. We caution New Jersey colleges and universities against accepting and investing in ‘MeToo Kits,’ which we fear will only cause more harm to survivors when they realize, too late, that the evidence they collected following a traumatic assault may be inadmissible and insufficient.”
Other organizations have released statements critical of the ‘MeToo Kits,’ including the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, the International Association of Forensic Nurses, the Campus Advocacy and Prevention Professionals Association (CAPPA), and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.
ABOUT NJCASA: NJCASA (www.njcasa.org) is the statewide technical assistance, and capacity building organization that represents New Jersey’s twenty-one county-based rape crisis centers, and the Rutgers University Office of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance. NJCASA elevates the voice of sexual violence survivors and service providers by advocating for survivor-centered legislation, training allied professionals, and supporting statewide prevention strategies that work to address and defy the socio-cultural norms that permit and promote rape culture.
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