PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Rhode Island advocacy group for victims of sexual assault is slamming the creation, distribution, and use of at-home rape kits.
Day One said a national company called “MeToo Kits” started marketing the at-home rape kits to the general public as an alternative to forensic medical exams.
“None of these critical procedures are included with the MeToo Kit,” the organization said in a statement Wednesday. “These MeToo Kits are trying to capitalize on the #MeToo movement, while misguiding victims into thinking these kits are a viable alternative to a forensic exam.”
Day One also said the results of the at-home kit—which are not yet for sale—would not be admissible in court.
“It seems implausible that a company would look to profit from a sexual assault, while also risking the loss of justice for victims, but that is exactly what Me Too Kit Company is doing,” the organization said.
On its website, the company said “The MeToo Kit is designed to address the problem associated with traditional sexual assault kits available to survivors. Most importantly, our kit empowers survivors to accurately collect evidence in a setting and timing of their choice.”
Peg Langhammer, executive director of Day One says primarily, she feels the kits would be inadequate.
“As we well know, in almost 80% of cases of sexual assault, the victim is known to the offender, has maybe had a relationship with the offender in some way, and so DNA is almost one part of the testing and certainly not at all an examination.”
Langhammer is also concerned this would deprive a victim of emotional support when they need it the most.
“Many times when victims go to hospital emergency departments following a sexual assault, they have no idea whats going to happen in an exam, nor should they, but its important they have someone that is trained to walk them through all those steps. It’s important to have a victim advocate present with them that would provide support, information about what’s next, should I press charges, who should I talk too about this?”
She says a victim needs medical attention you can’t find in an at home kit.
“Following a sexual assault, victims should have a comprehensive medical exam. Administered by a doctor, a nurse, a forensic nurse, a sexual assault nurse examiner, people that are trained in how to do this. What about STI’s?”
Kristy dosReis, a spokesperson for the office of R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha, released a statement saying they “share the concerns of law enforcement officials, sexual assault experts and advocacy organizations about the sale of ‘Me Too kits.'”
“In cases of sexual assault, it is critical to collect any evidence as soon as possible. Based on what we know now, these at-home kits are counter to the proper collection and preservation of that evidence and would likely not ever be admissible in court,” she continued. “Rhode Island has a good system in place to support victims of sexual assault and ensure they understand all of their options. Our office will continue to study this product and evaluate additional steps we can take to protect the public.”
Eyewitness News has reached out to MeToo Kits for a response to Day One’s statements. We will update this story if we hear back.
If you have been the victim of a sexual assault and are in need of help Day One urges you to call (401) 421-4100 or its 24/7 helpline at 1-800-494-8100.