In her role as Olivia Benson on Law & Order Mariska Hargitay has helped put many sexual predators behind bars and now in her real life, behind the scenes of the show, she is fighting for the same. Mariska has taken on a new project that she hopes will help get the backlog of rape tests processed in the city of Detroit.
According to officials in Detroit, there are thousands of rape kits that go untested every year due to lack of funds and lack of staff. This fact has caught the attention of Mariska Hargitay who has pledged to help Detroit (and Michigan in general) get through the rape kits that have not been processed.
On the show Law & Order Mariska Hargitay plays detective Olivia Benson, a special victim’s unit detective who fights for law and order while solving crimes of a sexual nature, though now she is doing it in real life too. When she began assuming that role in the year 1999 after being cast, Hargitay says that she began to receive loads of fan mail, though rather than telling her how much they loved the show, these letters instead were from victims who told her about their stories as rape victims. These letters appealed to Mariska’s emotions and the scenes that she filmed for the show Law & Order opened her eyes to the atrocious sexual crimes that victims have to suffer through in real life too.
The issue that caught Hargitay’s attention is the fact that Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who was the victim of sexual assault in college, has been working for the past few years to get 11,000 kits processed that were never tested from the year 2009. That number is just the number of kits not processed in that county. Hundreds of thousands of more tests still sit on shelves across the country.
Hargitay commented on Worthy’s information by saying “Every day in the United States women and men take the courageous step of reporting their rape to the police… One would assume that if someone endures a four- to six-hour invasive examination, that evidence would be handled with care.” Mariska Hargitay and Kym Worthy have joined forces to get this issue taken care of “no matter how long it takes.”
Mariska, Kym, and leaders of Detroit are working to get a bill passed that will implement a better process for rape-kit pickups, testing, and tracking. Reports state that since Mariska’s involvement a judge has already found guilty and sentenced a serial rapist.
But teaming up to fight for justice is not the only stand Mariska Hargitay is taking against sexual crimes. She is also now creating a documentary called “Shelved” that will show the truth about the failure of rape kits to be analyzed. No date has been set for the documentary yet but this documentary is not the first time Hargitay created a project against sexual crimes.
In fact, in the year 2004 she created a project known as The Joyful Heart Foundation, a national organization that helps victims recover from assaults. According to the website the foundation has raised millions of dollars and helped millions of victims.
As Mariska Hargitay and Kym Worthy work to get backlogs processed faster others are becoming involved in the fight including the President Barack Obama who is proposing $35 million of the fiscal budget for the year 2015 towards the effort.
As Detective Olivia Benson continues to fight crime and put sexual predators behind bars it seems that so, too, will Mariska Hargitay, proving that she also fights for law & order in real life.
By Crystal Boulware