July 27, 2016
LAS CRUCES - A fundraiser to empower victims of sexual assault to become advocates, and to raise money to help pay for a backlog of untested rape kits, is scheduled Aug. 19.
The event, titled "End the Backlog," includes dinner, a silent auction and a concert and begins at 6 p.m. Aug. 19 at Picacho Peak Brewery, 3900 W. Picacho Ave. Tickets for the dinner and silent auction are $30, and the cost to attend the concert is $6.
Currently, there are more than 5,000 untested rape kits New Mexico. Rape kits contain evidence collected during investigations of sexual assault that helps determine if criminal charges are warranted.
State Auditor Tim Keller recently completed a tour of the state to assess how best to have these tests processed so justice is served for rape victims.
Keller has determined a major limiting factor is adequate funding from the state legislature to have properly-staffed testing facilities, streamlined procedures between law enforcement and labs, and ongoing funding for material costs.
Money from the fundraiser will also be used to help advocates and rape victims go to Santa Fe for the upcoming legislative session to lobby elected state officials.
"The End the Backlog fundraiser is in response to the massive number of rape kits that have gone untested in New Mexico," said Jessi Lail, an organizer of the event. "As a victim of rape myself, the idea that crimes against my body are not handled or treated as dutifully as other types of crimes makes me feel invisible. Our fundraiser seeks to empower southern New Mexican victims and advocates in speaking out directly to the legislature as we push for more funding for ending the backlog as well as support for victim services, a critical component of victim welfare."
Tickets are available on the End the Backlog NM Facebook page. For information, call 575-323-1390.