Mariska Hargitay Speaks At DNC About Untested Rape Kit Backlog

by Christina Marfice
Originally Published: 
Mariska Hargitay Speaks At DNC About Untested Rape Kit Backlog
ABC News/Youtube

Mariska Hargitay to voters watching the virtual DNC: “I’m voting for Joe Biden for my daughters”

Playing the badass Detective Olivia Benson on Law and Order: SVU for nearly 20 years has made a fierce advocate out of Mariska Hargitay. She fights for survivors of sexual assault and sexual violence on TV, but she does similar work in the real world, tirelessly working to make the path to justice easier for survivors of these horrific crimes. And that’s a big part of what she focused on in her speech Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention.

“When I started doing research to play Detective Olivia Benson on Law and Order: SVU over 20 years ago, I was shocked to find out how many people, including children, experience physical or sexual abuse,” Hargitay said. “The statistics fueled my resolve, and I committed myself to the movement to end this violence.”

Hargitay also drew attention to one of the most shameful failings in our country in the way we investigate and bring justice for sexual assault cases: Our national backlog of untested rape kits. When someone is a victim of a sexual assault, they can have evidence collected in a rape kit, which is then analyzed for DNA and other evidence that can help identify the person who committed the crime. But hundreds of thousands of rape kits collected from assault survivors sit in storage facilities and have never been tested, meaning those survivors are still waiting for their journey toward potential justice to even begin.

That’s why Hargitay created the Joyful Heart Foundation, to “transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever,” according to its website. Joe Biden has been an ally and a supporter of the organization since it began, she said.

“The Vice President has worked tirelessly by our side to end the backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits,” Hargitay said in her speech. “And our work will continue, because testing kits not only makes our country safer, but it sends a vital message to survivors that what happened to them matters.”

Hargitay also pointed to Biden’s own work with It’s On Us, a campaign he launched to help end sexual assault on college campuses, and ultimately gave Biden her endorsement for the election this November.

“I’m voting for Joe Biden for my daughter,” Hargitay said. “For my sons. For all of our children.”

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