WASHINGTON – This week, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) and his fellow Co-Chairs of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence hosted a virtual roundtable to address how COVID-19 and racial disparities are impacting state and local organizations who tackle sexual and domestic violence, and to learn how these challenges are hindering survivors from accessing the care and support they need.
“As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical that we further our efforts to understand how it has impacted state and local organizations that tackle sexual and domestic violence so that we can properly support them at the federal level,” said Joyce. “The harsh reality is that during these challenging times, Americans at the greatest risk for such violence have lost access to the resources that are often vital to escaping abuse. We must continue to improve our response to this pandemic, including efforts to combat crimes of sexual and domestic violence, provide survivors with access to the resources they need, and bring perpetrators to justice. This important roundtable discussion helped us better understand how to do just that.”
Panelists for the roundtable included:
- Rosa Beltré, Executive Director of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence
- Monika Johnson Hostler, President of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence and Executive Director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault
- Condencia Brade, Executive Director of the National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault
- Patima Komolamit, Shelter Program Director at the Center for the Pacific Asian Family
During the roundtable, Joyce asked the panelists about how the rape kit backlog disproportionally impacts minority communities and what types of policies can be pursued on the federal level to provide victims with better access to the justice they deserve. Since coming to Congress, Joyce has made it one of his goals to tackle the rape kit backlog. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of these kits sit untested in crime lab storage facilities across the country. Just this past November, it was reported that at the time, Minneapolis had over 1,700 untested kits spanning 30 years.
“That is unacceptable,” said Joyce, referring to the number of untested kits across the country. “I know that healing from these terrible crimes is not a linear process for survivors – it’s often a lifelong progression. But as a former prosecutor, I also know that bringing one’s assailant to justice can play an important role in this process. In Ohio, we’ve made a lot of progress at the local level in reducing this backlog, but much work remains to be done.”
You can view the roundtable in its entirety here.