Injustice Anywhere Is A Threat To Justice Everywhere – MLK Jr.
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world would do this, it would change the earth” – William Faulkner
Kym Worthy is a true Lemonademaker. She inspires me because she truly makes a difference. She changed not just her local county that she worked in, she really changed cities around the entire United States. She was like water. She went around obstacles, she broke up boulders in her way, she flooded the media, she stormed through anyone and anything standing in her way and got justice for rape victims who had been waiting for it for as long as 30 years. She is my hero.
“There be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protect” – Elie Wiesel
Her story starts back in 2009 when she was an assistant DA with Wayne County in Michigan. In the summer of 2009, Rob Spada who worked in her office was taking a tour with local police through an evidence warehouse. Passing by rows upon rows of white cardboard boxes he asked what they were. He was told they were rape kits. When he pulled down four random boxes he discovered that they were all unprocessed rape kits – 11,341 kits, some more than 30 years old (statute of limitations is 20 years).
In the past half-dozen years, backlogs of untested rape kits have been discovered in Memphis, 12,000; Cleveland, nearly 4,000; Tulsa, 3,783; Milwaukee, 2,655; Dallas, 4,144; San Diego, 2,873; Miami, 2,900; Honolulu, 1,500. Smaller cities are not immune, either. Kansas City, Missouri, had 1,324 backlogged kits; Tempe, Arizona, more than 500; Flint, Michigan, 246.
“When injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes duty” – Unknown
Rob Spada contacted Kym Worthy in his office and told her what he had found. She first wrote to then Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans requesting a meeting to discuss how to proceed. When she didn’t get a response, she wrote Chief Evans again, adding, “It is imperative that your Department move on this as soon as possible.” Again, nothing.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor” – Desmond Tutu
Not one to stop at no answer, the story was leaked to the newpaper resulting in “Rape Evidence Shelved?” as the front page of the Detroit Free Press on September 22, 2009. Worthy put together a plan for her office to take the lead on testing the kits, but then Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, who controlled her budget, shot it down. The county simply couldn’t afford it, he said, and it was really a problem for city hall and the police, not the county.
Kym is not a woman who takes no for an answer. What she did next was to spearhead a national movement for reform. In May 2010, at the invitation of U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), she testified about the backlog before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. Later that year, the research arm of the Department of Justice gave Worthy and her partner agencies a grant to test 400 random kits, to provide a statistically significant snapshot of what was at stake, and then in April 2011, the agency followed up with a $1.5 million grant to address the backlog.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” – Unknown
To test all of them, Worthy estimated she’d need about $17 million (the lab work ran $1,000 to $1,500 per kit). On top of that, she intended to investigate every single case, even those that didn’t end up having meaningful forensic evidence. But she had only three sex-crime investigators on her staff, the police department had as few as six.
“One person can stop a great injustice. One person can be a voice for truth. One person’s kindness can save a life” – Nicky Gumbel
The nonprofit Detroit Crime Commission—which, on behalf of Worthy’s office, had negotiated the cost of testing down to $490 per kit—joined with the Michigan Women’s Foundation to launch what organizers believe was the first-ever crowdfunded campaign for a government program, called Enough SAID (Sexual Assault in Detroit).
“An unrectified case of injustice has a terrible way of lingering, restlessly, in the social atmosphere like an unfinished equation” – Mary McCarthy
They received donations from everyone and everywhere. A local canasta club started donating the pot from its weekly game; the Galentine’s Book Club kicked in $525. In October 2015, a coalition of African American businesswomen held a fundraiser that leveraged the rivalry between the University of Michigan and Michigan State football teams to net more than $30,000. Sheryl Sandberg donated an unsolicited $25,000 to the cause. To date, Enough SAID has raised $1.5 million in private contributions. by the beginning of 2016, $8 million had been allocated to Enough SAID by public bodies ranging from the state attorney general’s office to the Michigan legislature.
Worthy didn’t just rustle up money; she also transformed the “entire culture of law enforcement,” as her deputy Spada puts it. In his 20-plus years at the prosecutor’s office, he says, “I’ve seen a change in how police approach sexual assault victims. That’s been brought about by Kym, in how she attacked the problem and let it be known publicly that society had certain kinds of assumptions about what a victim would act like or be like.”
“If you look at any other group of people suffering injustice, women are always in the worst situation within that group” – Salma Hayek
Worthy also has spearheaded the push for concrete legal and procedural reforms. Michigan law, enacted in 2014, requires that rape kits move through each level of law enforcement according to a mandated timeline—three months from start to finish—and both police and healthcare professionals must notify victims about their right to obtain information about their own kits.
“The time is always right to do what is right” – Martin Luther King Jr.
I believe that Kurt Cobain stated the problem of rape many years ago. Kurt Cobain said, “Rape is one of the most terrible crimes on earth and it happens every few minutes. The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there.“
See the full article which includes ones rape victims story of getting justice 15 years later. This story was first published by Elle and I found it with an article in NationSwell.
Do you see in your own life where injustices were tolerated by yourself and others? Be inspired for follow in Kym’s footsteps. She got creative. She raised awareness. She didn’t let the matter go away. Even though her journey took years to complete, she stayed true to her vision and her conscience.