STORY BY KATY WALTERS
On Thursday, April 25th, the Fort Hays State University Women’s Leadership Project hosted a film showing of the documentary I Am Evidence in order to raise awareness for Sexual Assault Awareness Month which is held in April. Their purpose was to inform students of sexual assault and rape, and to get the topic in everyday conversations.
The film was based on the finding of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in large cities throughout the U.S. In 2009, Kym Worthy, Wayne County Prosecutor, discovered a warehouse containing thousands of untested rape kits in Detroit, Michigan. They remained untested because the law enforcement deemed those victims unfit for justice. Demeaning and offensive language was used in the case reports of these victims which shows how these victims were treated after a life-threatening event.
Throughout the documentary, several survivors shared their stories that were ignored by law enforcement. Because these kits went untested, several serial rapists and murderers walked free due to the Statute of Limitations running out. The victims of these crimes have given up on closure because they have not heard from the sheriff’s department since the day they were assaulted.
Thanks to Kym Worthy and her staff, these survivors of sexual assault and rape may finally get answers as to who attacked them. They say that they are not just a number on a statistic sheet or another untested rape kit in an abandoned warehouse. They are evidence that cannot be ignored any longer.
Brooklynn Bracelin and Elaine Parkinson, student leaders of the Women’s Leadership Project, want to educate all on the seriousness of sexual assault. “It happens everywhere, even in our on campus,” said Bracelin, “By educating our students on sexual assault we can create a much safer community.”
Throughout Sexual Assault Awareness month, the WLP has hosted the “What Were You Wearing Display” which shows what survivors of sexual assault were wearing when they were attacked, and Denim Day in which students wore jeans to support victims and educate others on sexual assault. The Women’s Leadership Project partnered with Jana’s Campaign and Options Domestic and Sexual Violence Services for these events which helped spread awareness throughout all of campus.