I’ve found out more in the last few months about human trafficking and violence against women than I have over the last five years–five years that I’ve actively researched, blogged about and spoken about the horror of this crime.
What stunned me recently was an article (Billing for Rape by Rebecca Catalanello of NOLA.com and The Times-Picayune) that stated that women in Louisiana were charged–charged!–up to thousands of dollars in medical bills after going to the ER and submitting to a SANE exam ( a medical forensic exam) so that law enforcement could have DNA and other evidence to bring the perpetrator to justice. This is even after passage of a 2005 amendment to the Violence Against Women Act that provides for free medical forensic exams to those who have been sexually assaulted. Law Enforcement complains that rape victims do not always carry through with prosecution. If they want victims to report and carry through, then how about picking up the cost of rape testing? This is ridiculous. Do we charge other victims of crime for forensic testing? If so , we’d never have convictions. Who could afford it? Not all states are the same and not all hospitals are the same, but my research has brought out that many victims are charged for tests without ever being informed of the fees. For instance, if hospital personnel ask if the victim wants to a STD (sexually transmitted diseases) test, and she says yes, she will get the test and a hefty bill with it. Talk about being victimized again! When is this type of “crime” going to stop?