The first woman who answered the phone told me that I could not get a rape kit at the Georgetown Hospital. When I explained the urgency of my friend’s situation, she suggested that I try the George Washington Hospital. After I insisted on speaking with someone else who could give me more information, I was put on hold for well over five minutes. I was astounded that I was forced to wait for that length of time right after I had explained that my friend had been raped and was seeking emergency response. When another woman came on the line, she told me that my friend would have to go to the Washington Hospital Center in order to have access to a rape kit. She did not tell me what Georgetown Hospital could do for my friend until I explicitly asked her what resources Georgetown Hospital had for rape survivors. She explained that a survivor could be medically screened but that it would not include a rape kit. This is common procedure for most university hospitals in the District of Columbia, as the Washington Hospital Center serves as the only place where rape kits are administered. However, when I told the woman that my friend needed help getting to the Washington Hospital Center (map shown below), she casually suggested that we take a taxi.
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This suggestion revealed what Plan A finds most problematic about Georgetown University Hospital’s services for rape survivors. Plan A is pointing out not only that the university does not carry rape kits, but also that it provides no services for its students to access them elsewhere. It is unconscionable to expect rape survivors to get into a taxi and ride over to an unfamiliar hospital alone. Not only does this require the student to incur the expenses of transportation to an alternate location, but it also obliges a traumatized rape survivor to put themselves into an unsafe environment without any support from the university. I expressed these concerns to the woman from the hospital and asked if there were any other options. She explained that my friend could be transported to the Washington Hospital Center by MedStar (the company that owns Georgetown Hospital). This, once again, places tremendous financial burden on rape survivors and unquestionably will discourage many survivors from accessing essential resources like rape kits and comprehensive post-trauma care.
In order to lift these burdens from access to critical health services, the Georgetown administration must advocate on behalf of its students. It must provide free transportation to and from the Washington Hospital Center in order to facilitate safe and uninhibited access to rape kits. Anything less is an affront to the health and safety of rape survivors. Plan A also believes that the University should actively distribute information about steps to accessing services for sexual assault and rape survivors. It is the University’s responsibility to ensure that this information is made public, explicit and well-circulated.