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Don't Get Raped in Kansas

By Kari Ann Rinker
Advocacy | October 16, 2009

WICHITA, Kan. - My eyes are being opened to the problem of sexual assault in Kansas. The more information that I seek, the more alarmed and outraged I become. The fact that one rape occurs every seven hours in Kansas is a fact that I find unacceptable. The fact that the ordeal of many victims is often intensified by current post assault procedures currently practiced by hospitals throughout the state... well, that is a fact that I find inhuman.

A recent sexual assault on the campus of Wichita State University is what began my education in this area. Initially, it was the "tips" for lowering the risk of rape that prompted me to contact WSU campus police. The "tips" that obviously indicate that women should shoulder the responsibility to protect themselves from potential attackers, rather than counseling drunk frat boys on how NOT TO RAPE WOMEN. Well, every journey must have a starting point and that was mine.

As I stewed in my pot of aggravation, I simmered further when a fellow feminist friend noted that the victim was taken to a Catholic hospital. This prompted me to find out more about sexual assault victim protocol in the state of Kansas. I could have never imagined that the lack of emergency contraception dispensed to victims based upon a contradictory religious ideology (EC would prevent an unwanted pregnancy, thus preventing a potential abortion) would be the least offensive thing that I would discover.

Just over a week after the sexual assault at WSU, it was reported that there were multiple attacks on women on the same night at separate universities in Lawrence, Kansas. The women were told to go to a hospital out of town. My ire had been adequately riled. I then found myself in Hays, Kansas. I had been asked to speak on the topic of women's rights with some college classes at Fort Hays State University. The conversation turned to sexual assault, as there were students present that had chosen this topic as the subject matter for a current class project. They shared with me the story of a rape in their town involving football players that had occurred at the beginning of the year. The victim was taken from Hays to a hospital in Salina. Salina is 100 miles away from Hays. These students told me stories of victims that they knew, that had to switch police vehicles at the crossing of each county line, intensifying their feelings of humiliation and exposing them to multiple strangers who would then become aware of their horribly painful and personal plight. They told me stories of women vomiting on the side of the road on the excruciatingly long return trip, as they experienced adverse reactions from medications that had been administered as part of the sexual assault examination process. If this is how the victims of sexual assault are treated in the state of Kansas, I must forcefully ask...WHY?

There is a hospital in Hays that is on its way to being "a top health care facility in the region in both size and quality of care". Do they lack the funds to provide a certified sexual assault nurse examiner for the region? Well, one thing I can tell you is that they have $4 million at their disposal to put into parking lot renovations.

There are those that would say that I shouldn't be surprised. There are those that would say that this is the way it has been throughout the ages. Women and their inconvenient societal disadvantages, well they will just have to accept what is given to them. Fathers will have to just accept that the hospital that may be instrumental in delivering their precious daughters into the world, may one day turn those same daughters away when they turn there for help after having been sexually brutalized.

Well, I AM surprised. I AM disappointed and shocked, but my eyes are now open and I don't intend to close them.


Excellent article. Thank you.

Kari, this is important information. You are doing a great service by printing this here.

Thank you for taking the time to share this story. This article contains extremely important and insightful information. I hope you'll also keep us updated as you learn more.

The examination should be handled promptly and by the nearest hospital with as much privacy and discretion and rapidity as humanly possible. One wonders if some women simply cannot emotionally or physically manage that trip during that crisis. As you have pointed out - they are being passed among strangers often in the dark of night. How terrible. It should also be noted that the first thing a woman wants to do after she has been so awfully defiled - she wants to take a shower to try to wash away the smell of her perpetrator from her body. This is a crucial thing for her to be able to do promptly. However, she cannot do this until she has been properly examined and evidence has been collected from her body. This needs to be swift. Remember, this is a trip to a faraway hospital BEFORE they take the much needed shower. How disgusting that they should have any wait time before being examined properly. I for one am wholly disappointed in Hays Medical Center and am not likely to do any more business with that hospital until this is remedied. Please let us know what else you learn. This is important.

I just read your bio. Kansas needs you for this work. Let us know how we can help.

Definitely let us know how to help your (our) cause. We've learned that Hays Medical Center has millions of dollars in its foundation - and gets millions of extra dollars every year for disproportionate shares, rural access, health centers, capital improvements, etc.

I read recently that HMC's doctors make between 500,000 and 1 million to 2 million dollars every year in salary and bennies.

It sounds like Hays is operating like a for profit hospital, only using money for money making efforts. But the problem is that HMC is not for profit. It is supposed to serve the community. And now we learn that HMC is sending our daughters and neighbors daughters 100 miles to another hospital by way of squad car, as victims of awful assaults? Unacceptable.

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