(originally posted by dallasnews.com)
By Sarah Mervosh
Sexual assault victims in southern Dallas no longer have to travel all the way across town to get the rape exam that’s critical to documenting the attack and preserving evidence needed to nab the perpetrator.The initiative also begins to address a historical resentment among poor and minority residents on the south side who say they aren’t afforded the same opportunities as northern residents. Two hospitals north of downtown – Parkland Memorial Hospital and Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas – already offer rape kits.
“Unfortunately, Dallas has a perceived — and maybe a real — impression that individuals from the southern sector don’t receive services like those in the north,” Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins said at a press conference Thursday. “This program gives us credibility. It gives us the ability to stand up … and say, ‘because you’re from South Dallas, you will be treated just as those individuals from North Dallas.’”
Watkins and Dallas Police Chief David Brown joined representatives from Methodist and Safer Dallas Better Dallas, the group that pushed for the program, to make the announcement Thursday.
Offering rape kits in south Dallas has been the goal since the inception of Safer Dallas Better Dallas’ SANE Initiative, said Courtney Underwood, the initiative’s executive director.
“The unspoken, but often resounding reality is that crime in areas saturated by crime and poverty are often ignored,” she said. “The Methodist Dallas SANE program represents a powerful step forward in bridging a dangerous gap in services while also declaring that neither privilege nor discrimination will determine who receives services and compassion.”
The SANE program at Methodist offers exams to men and women ages 14 and older.
Prior to this month, Dallas was the largest city in the United States with just one SANE program. (Parkland offers tests performed by physicians, not trained nurses).