Longtime sexual assault activist and Regulation and Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay instructed Self-importance Honest not too long ago that she’s acquired numerous letters from survivors over time from ladies who related along with her fictional sequence lead, the social justice-minded Olivia Benson. She explores these authorized failures in HBO‘s I Am Proof, a harrowing documentary wherein she serves as govt producer.
It’s exhausting to look at any stretch of the movie and never have your blood boil. The movie opens with safety digicam footage of ladies being attacked within the streets and in properties. Textual content punctuates this opening by telling the viewers that somebody is sexually assaulted each two minutes in America. So, statistically talking, somebody has been attacked throughout this prologue. As this textual content comes on-screen, the load of it hits you full pressure. That units the stage for the movie, which appears to be like on the method sexual assault instances are investigated throughout the nation. Extra precisely, it appears to be like at what number of of those instances will not be investigated.
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By way of the lens of victims and police, administrators Trish Adlesic and Geeta Gandbhir deliver a measured method to the fabric. The movie focuses on the backlog of untested rape kits saved throughout the nation. This challenge first got here into the general public consciousness in 2009 when 1000’s of untested rape kits had been present in a Detroit proof room. County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, based mostly out of Wayne County, Michigan, has led the cost in having these kits examined and pursuing legal instances the place attainable.
However the issue wasn’t remoted to Detroit. Per the movie, there are over 200,000 untested rape kits accumulating mud in storage rooms throughout the nation. Not solely has the system failed the victims, however the failure is so pervasive that it created extra victims. Take the instances of Helena and Amberly, two survivors whose tales are prominently featured. Helena reported her rape to authorities and did every little thing she may to deliver a rapist to justice. However the authorities let her case die on the vine. That neglect left a rapist on the streets and left him free to assault Amberly. The 2 ladies stay in numerous elements of the nation and share no different connection. Amberly’s case was equally disregarded.
Screengrab by way of HBO/YouTube
The failure of the justice system within the instances of Helena, Amberly, and so many others is the center of the movie. Adlesic and Gandbhir are shining a lightweight on the systemic and societal inequality and misogyny coursing by the nation. In these #MeToo occasions, each individual and system should be held accountable for his or her actions.
“No one cares about ladies on this nation,” Kym Worthy says lower than 10 minutes into I Am Proof. Kym’s matter-of-fact tone when she says this could solely come from somebody with firsthand expertise. It’s sobering. Between the tales of ladies brutalized by males, then victimized once more by lazy, uncaring investigators, you’ll be able to’t disagree with Worthy. There’s a second within the movie that reveals a trial. There’s a lady, the sufferer of a rape, on the stand and the protection is questioning her. This older man stands there and peppers the lady with questions on what she was sporting when she was attacked. Or why she didn’t run, regardless of her clarification that the person had a gun and he or she didn’t wish to die. It’s one among many moments within the documentary that encapsulates every little thing that’s mistaken with us as a society.
I Am Proof is greater than only a damning condemnation. It’s a name to motion. In its closing stretch, I Am Proof finds hope and provides the movie’s title an optimistic tenor. Kym, Helena, Amberly, and too many others live proof that we will, and should, be higher. I Am Proof doesn’t precisely say something that we don’t already know, however it makes clear the price of this dereliction of duty. It additionally makes clear the significance of continuous to combat for a greater method. Males have created and perpetuated this unequal and unjust mess, and we’re those who should take heed of tales like this and work with the Kym Worthys of the world to rectify it.
In case you are a sufferer of sexual assault or need extra data on sexual assault, contact the Rape, Abuse & Incest Nationwide Community at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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