Despite a 1996 state law that prohibits charging rape victims for forensic exams or kits used to collect evidence after a rape, three counties in Georgia have been charging women as much as $1,200 to cover costs that the law states should be paid for by law enforcement. Exams performed on rape victims are criminal investigation tools police use to catch and prosecute rapists; police departments do not charge the victims in any other type of criminal investigation. Rape victim advocates at the Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault (GNESA) worry that the high cost of the tests and police departments’ lack of additional funding to cover the costs mean the burden has shifted to the victim. GNESA advocates also worry that police officers are not ordering rape exams for victims in order to avoid incurring the cost of the examinations. Paying for the examinations with insurance introduces additional patient privacy concerns, as insurance companies may discriminate against the victim if she/he has been exposed to HIV. Victims may also be forced to reveal the assault to the primary insurance holder, which could be a family member or an employer.
Media Resources: Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault; Atlanta Journal-Constitution – March 5, 2001