If you’ve been to our website before, you might have noticed that we’ve made a few changes.
1. We've got a new look
Earlier this year, our team at the Joyful Heart Foundation revealed a new look and a new mission statement:
To transform society's response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors' healing, and end this violence forever.
This change embraces strength, focus, compassion, and connectedness. And all of this work, like our mission statement, centers on supporting survivors' healing.
As an initiative of the Joyful Heart Foundation, END THE BACKLOG reflects these same principles. Our new look is meant to convey both the urgency of the issue and the hope and change that are possible when we work together to end the backlog. We hope you find it to be as inviting and empowering as we do.
2. We've introduced our new map
When this site went live three years ago, we knew much less about the extent of the backlog of untested rape kits across the country. Only three states had implemented any kind of rape kit reform whatsoever. Today, that number is 23. From statewide audits aimed exclusively at counting kits, to laws that are getting kits off shelves and ensuring the backlog never happens again, a lot of progress has been made. While the breadth and pace of reform are growing, so is the disparity between communities doing the bare minimum and those leading the way toward comprehensive reform.
So our national landscape is now focused on legislative efforts, which we believe are the key to lasting reform. Check out our updated interactive map, which shows how we’re tracking reforms, and the quick facts on what’s happening in your state.
No states currently meet our "gold standard" for reform, which means there is a lot more work for us to do.
3. We've made it easier to explore from your phone
It's a suble but meaningful change. With a third of people coming to our site last year from mobile devices, our content is now better optimized for you to explore and act to end the backlog. No more zooming and squinting—all our content is right there, easy for you to read and explore from your phone.
We undertook this update precisely because of how far we've come, and this progress is something to be celebrated. But it's crystal clear that we have a long way to go for comprehensive rape kit reform to be a reality in all 50 states. One in five women will experience sexual violence in their lives. Fewer than 35% of them will report their crimes to the police. The rape kit backlog is representative of our current criminal justice response to survivors: a response that tells survivors that their experiences don't matter, and tells perpetrators that we don't take this crime seriously.
So let's make our voices heard today. Even with the election season, state lawmakers are forming their legislative priorities right now. Take a moment to urge yours to make rape kit reform one of them.
-By Lendon Ebbels, Content & Communications Manager, and Ilse Knecht, Director of Policy and Advocacy
END THE BACKLOG is an initiative of the Joyful Heart Foundation to shine a light on the backlog of untested rape kits throughout the United States. Our goal is to end this injustice by conducting groundbreaking research identifying the extent of the nation’s backlog and best practices for eliminating it, expanding the national dialogue on rape kit testing through increased public awareness, engaging communities and government agencies and officials and advocating for comprehensive rape kit reform legislation and policies at the local, state and federal levels. We urge you to learn more about the backlog, where it exists and why it matters. We invite you to take action and support efforts to test rape kits. Help us send the message that we must take rape seriously.