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#Freedomforkesha highlights need for sexual assault vigilance

All over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram this past week, I kept seeing the hashtag “#freedomforkesha.” Of course, my interest was sparked immediately. I remembered hearing last year about Kesha suing her producer, Dr. Luke, for verbally and physically assaulting her, but there still is no verdict in the case. Subsequently, I was curious. Did he assault her? Or was she faking the case for money, fame or something else?

In January of 2014, Kesha checked herself into rehab near Chicago for an eating disorder. She was cleared two months later and returned home, but still continues to attend therapy. Later that year, she claimed that her producer of 10 years had been drugging, assaulting and sexually abusing her over the course of that time. Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald immediately countersued, and has recently claimed that she only wanted “to gain advantage of contract negotiations.” After months without any progress, Kesha expanded the lawsuit to Sony Music in June of this year. Sony either did not investigate the case or actively covered Dr. Luke’s actions, causing suspicion to rise on their part in this investigation.

However, Kesha is now stuck in between wanting to carry on with her career and being contractually tied with Dr. Luke as her only way of making new music. Her lawyer has addressed the problem and filed for an injunction, which forces the judge to make a decision on the case. If the injunction does not result in her favor, she could be facing problems that could follow her throughout the rest of her career. Kesha stated in court last week that she is possibly “past the point of no return” without the injunction.

As an artist and the writer of her own music, Kesha had an extremely successful career. Her pop party anthems are well known and loved. But when it comes to cases like this one, they always seem to make the news, get the most shares on Facebook and get the most outrage from fans and activists alike, hence the hashtag “#freedomforKesha.”

It’s hard to tell objectively who is to blame here. Many people believe that Kesha simply claimed rape to extort her producer and to gain advantage of her contract negotiations. Others are standing by Kesha and want justice for her and other women that have to work with their abuser.

In the end, everyone wants justice; whether that means sentencing Dr. Luke or finding that Kesha’s allegations were false. But many people don’t have that luxury. Recently, the Fayetteville Police Department in North Carolina destroyed 333 rape kits of unresolved cases to “make room for evidence.” In Kentucky, over 3,000 rape kits are still in the labs, untested. It is estimated that there are over 400,000 rape kits that have not been tested, sitting in labs across the U.S. according to a statement released by the White House this year.

To me, this is outrageous. These people have gone through the initial, horrifying incident that will forever influence how they live their lives. In addition to the process of telling their story over and over to cops and doctors, they must be subjected to a rape kit. This process is equally humiliating and traumatic, after the emotional and physical shock they have gone through, but rape kits are also completely necessary. If the perpetrator’s DNA is found in the rape kit, there is a much higher chance of trial and sentencing.

Many rapists walk free every day simply because of a lab’s backlog of rape kits. Untested rape kits simply mean the case went “cold” to the police or the government did not want to charge based on lack of evidence or a case that does not seem permissible. Many cases are dropped because the police do not believe the case is strong enough to convince a jury of assault. But to have destroyed these untested kits rules out any hope for justice. Getting rid of them eliminates the option of possibly bringing solace to the victim and taking the rapist into custody.

Sexual assault is a real and terrifying issue in today’s society. This injustice needs to be brought to light for the victims. I can’t say that I have been where they are, but I can only imagine their feelings of anger and anxiety. No one should have to go through what they did, whether that was rape or another sexual assault. But to also have to wait for the rapist to be tried or not even getting that chance at all is a travesty, and a better system needs to be implemented and victims of sexual assault need to be heard.

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#Freedomforkesha highlights need for sexual assault vigilance