While awareness is important, Memphis Says NO MORE — an awareness campaign produced by the Memphis Sexual Assault Kit Taskforce — is not a credible source of information about sexual assault or domestic violence
We remain disturbed that the Sexual Assault Kit Taskforce, whose only reason for existence is to address law enforcement failures of Memphis’ own making, has assumed the role of teacher.
Instead of educating the public about the scandal of untested rape kits (or “stored sexual assault kits,” as the Taskforce now calls them), the Taskforce misleads the public with dangerous propaganda. Led by public relations professionals, the group advocates not for justice, but for the very systems that have failed rape victims.
Memphis Says NO MORE endangers rape prosecutions
In an apparent escalation of tactics, Memphis Says NO MORE has printed “handy palm cards” that purport to contain crucial phone numbers and guidance for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
On the card, Memphis Says NO MORE affirms that rape is a crime and urges readers to “report violence.”
But the card does not direct readers to call 911 after a rape.
Instead, it directs readers to the Memphis Police Department’s non-emergency number.
“To report rape, call 901-545-2677.”
We must emphasize how dangerous this is.
Sexual assault experts agree that people reporting such crimes should make as few statements as possible to as few people as possible. The more statements the complainant makes, the more room there is for inconsistencies in the statements. Inconsistencies weaken cases, reducing the likelihood of successful prosecutions. Also, describing a traumatic event like rape is in itself traumatic for the complainant. In all likelihood, directing people to report rape to the non-emergency number inflicts needless stress on the complainants, many of whom have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Does Memphis Says NO MORE want to thwart the rape reporting process to reduce the city’s high crime numbers?
Because the campaign is produced by city officials who have an interest in improving Memphis’ reputation, we must ask that question.
Memphis Says NO MORE should immediately clarify that 911 is available to people reporting rape.
View the campaign’s website at www.MemphisSaysNoMore.com
People for the Enforcement of Rape Laws is a program of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center to monitor law enforcement responses to sexual violence. Our goal is to end the law enforcement and political practices that effectively decriminalize sexual violence. To this end, we connect victims with information about their rights and equip individuals with tools to advocate for themselves and others and advocate for fair criminal justice policies. We urge you to learn more about America’s hidden rape crisis, where it has been exposed, and why it matters. We invite you to take action and support our efforts to make sure law enforcement takes rape seriously.