Author’s note: This article discusses sexual assault.
In Detroit, an extensive coalition of women’s organizations is joining forces to raise awareness about sexual assault and the importance of processing rape kits. The African American 490 Challenge coalition is urging black women to raise multiples of $490, the cost of processing one rape kit. The coalition aims to empower black women to be a leading force in pushing for Detroit to process its rape kits in a more timely manner.
Over the past few years, the Michigan Women’s Foundation and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy have been leading a rape kit testing and investigation effort called Enough SAID (Enough Sexual Assault In Detroit). The African American 490 Challenge coalition is working with Enough SAID to raise funds for rape kit testing in Detroit. Together, the organizations have been raising money online here.
When rape kits containing key evidence of assault are left unopened and untested in storage units, it becomes much more likely that these assault cases will never make it to court. The African American 490 Challenge coalition urges black women to raise their voices to show sexual assault victims that their stories have not been forgotten.
The coalition aims to raise even more money to test abandoned rape kits and investigate sexual assault cases. Multiple fundraising tactics have already been utilized including donation parties and crowd-funding. But the most innovative and creative fundraiser idea that the African American 490 Challenge coalition plans to use is football face-off. A Michigan State University alumna suggested that the University of Michigan team should play Michigan Blue in a donation face-off to raise funds and awareness for rape kit testings.
Members of the coalition agree that this form of a fundraiser will effectively bring attention to the campaign without taking away from the horrific crime. In Michigan, football games are always important to people, but when the game is played to benefit a worthwhile cause, it becomes instantly more significant. The African American 490 Challenge coalition hopes that hosting this fundraiser will help meet the fundraising goals of the organization as well as help make the public more aware of these issues.
Each untested rape kit represents a brutal crime with no justice. Each untested rape kit reminds a victim of assault that they are living a life without closure. Each untested rape kit indicates that a perpetrator is still on the loose and can strike again at any time. Only by processing these rape kits can Detroit truly begin to take a stand against sexual assault cases in the area.
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