A much-loved TV cop speaks out to celebrate what Manhattan's DA decided regarding rape kits.

It's like she stepped off of my TV and into my real life to continue kicking ass in the real world, along with other heroes and advocates for rape victims.

You probably know Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson from NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." There, she spends her days taking down some of TV's most vile and disgusting bad guys.

Turns out, though, that her real life isn't all that different. As president and founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation, Mariska advocates for sexual abuse victims around the world and works hard to help them heal.


Mariska's top priority? Our country's rape kit problem.

Rape kits go by many names: sexual assault evidence collection kits, sexual assault forensic evidence (SAFE) kits, and others. Essentially, they're packets of evidence, like photographs, swabs, and blood and urine specimens collected following a sexual assault. And it's probably no surprise that the collection of this evidence is often painfully invasive for the victim.

Which is why it really sucks there's a backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits.

Mariska puts it like this:

But there is some good news.

With the support of Mariska and the Joyful Heart Foundation, Manhattan's district attorney recently pledged $35 million to help eliminate that backlog.

His name is Cyrus R. Vance Jr. And those GIFs? That's Mariska right after thanking him for being a great ally to the cause.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Vance's pledge will actually do a lot more than help tackle the rape kit backlog. It'll also go toward creating comprehensive data and information sharing systems nationwide. That means we'll be better equipped to identify suspects, convict perpetrators, prevent future offenses, and even free the innocent. Not just in Manhattan, but across the country.

But there's more work to do. A lot of it, actually.

Mariska says, "So based on test results, there is a staggering number of witnesses to track down, case files to analyze, suspects to pursue, and survivors to reengage with care, with expertise, and with compassion."

And she's right. What her organization has accomplished in conjunction with the district attorney's office is only a baby step toward the ultimate goal.

But here's another.

President Obama just doubled down on the backlog problem with an additional $41 million.

That's a lot of money. And it means making an even bigger dent in the backlog, along with even better information sharing. All in the name of getting survivors the justice they deserve.

Though we still have a long road ahead.

The important thing, for now, is that survivors of sexual assault have some powerful people in their corner. Fighting on their behalf.

The Manhattan DA.

The president of the United States.

And a badass TV cop who won't be backing down any time soon.

You can watch the video here from to learn more about how Cyrus, Mariska, and the Joyful Heart Foundation are making a difference.

More

Abigail Disney is the granddaughter of the late Roy Disney, the co-founder of the Walt Disney Co. Abigail herself does not have a job within the company, but she has made some public complaints about the way things are being run and how it is effecting the employees of the company.

Disney recently spoke on the Yahoo News show "Through Her Eyes," and shared a story of how a Magic Kingdom employee reached out to her about the poor working conditions at the theme park. So, Disney went to see for herself, and she did not like what she found.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Wellington District Police

Some animals have no respect for authority. Rogue penguins are disobeying the police in New Zealand, and they can't stop, won't stop.

Two little blue penguins were spotted at Sushi Bi near the Wellington railway station, allegedly trying to nest. The penguins had to cross through busy lanes of traffic running between the harbor and the sushi bar.

The dangerous duo was detained by the police, then released back into Wellington Harbour.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature

Netflix

How much of what we do is influenced by what we see on TV? When it comes to risky behavior, Netflix isn't taking any chances.

After receiving a lot of heat, the streaming platform is finally removing a controversial scenedepicting teen suicide in season one of "13 Reasons Why. The decision comes two years after the show's release after statistics reveal an uptick in teen suicide.

"As we prepare to launch season three later this summer, we've been mindful about the ongoing debate around the show. So on the advice of medical experts, including Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we've decided with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from season one," Netflix said in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
Magnific Eye / Unsplash

Los Angeles is experiencing a homeless epidemic that was years in the making.

Over the past six years, the unhoused population in the city has risen 75 percent. The city's lack of homeless shelters and affordable housing has forced many who can't afford L.A.'s sky-high rents to live on the streets.

According to LAist, since 2000, renter incomes have decreased by 3 percent while rents have gone up 32 percent.

While the city has launched a $100 million-per-year program to help the problem, rapper, entrepreneur, and actor Jaden Smith has found his own way of responding to the crisis: love.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities