New Mexico has a backlog of more than 5,000 untested rape kits. State auditor Tim Keller revealed in a report that there are 254 untested rape kits for every 100,000 New Mexico residents. The staggering statistic means that New Mexico, a state afflicted by rampant poverty, has the highest per capita rate of untested rape kits in the nation. The backlog is so bad that there are incidents dating from 1988. The state is claiming that lack of funding is the reason, but there seems to be an abundance of funds to defend officers facing police brutality lawsuits, for brand new weapons, and for cops’ high salaries.
The state spends millions of dollars for oppressive operations, such as crackdowns on protests and incarcerating people of color. When women seek protection from violence, law enforcement turns a blind eye, putting them in more danger. By under-investigating reports of sexual assault, law enforcement perpetuates sexual violence by allowing rapists to go unpunished. Law enforcement also downplays the impact of rape by being more sympathetic to the perpetrator than to the victim. Too often those who report rape are shamed for “ruining” the lives of their rapists. The New Mexico state report also indicates that because law enforcement found some victims to “lack credibility,” they purposely ignored the kits for decades. Directing blame to rape victims is far too common in our legal system, which points to why 63 percent of rapes go unreported.
The case of untested rape kits in New Mexico is one example of women’s issues being put on the back-burner. Other issues like women’s healthcare, reproductive services, equal pay, etc. are always treated as not critical enough for swift, decisive action.
Women can never be fully emancipated under the capitalist system. Violence against women is capitalism’s effective tool in keeping women subordinate. For the complete liberation of women, we need a new system.
We must combat the attacks on women’s rights by organizing against the patriarchal capitalist system. The only way that women and working people everywhere have accomplished anything is because of organized militant action in the streets. We cannot simply wait for the impotent, flip-flopping politicians to take the lead and fight for us. We must fight for ourselves and show the anti-woman bigots that we won’t stand down.