Mariska Hargitay plays a sex crimes detective on Law and Order: SVU, but now the actress is taking her support for victims to another level by producing an upcoming documentary about rape kit backlog.
The documentary, Shelved, will focus on the many rape kits Detroit has failed to analyze and what can be done to stop the backlog from continuing. Rape kits are procedurally given to rape victims immediately after the reported crime and, when analyzed, often lead to identifying the DNA of the alleged attacker and then to the ultimate conviction of that individual. But according to The Detroit News, under-staffing and high costs have led to thousands of rape tests going unanalyzed in Detroit — among many other places. Hargitay wants to fix this.
This isn’t the first time Hargitay has shown interest in fighting sexual abuse. In 2004, Hargitay founded the Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization that supports victims of sexual crimes, such as child abuse or domestic violence.
News of Hargitay’s involvement with the film comes on the heels of last week’s White House announcement of an initiative that would put $35 million toward analyzing untested rape kits and other efforts to reduce sexual crime and support victims.
No date for Shelved is set yet. Others involved in the project include director Marc Levin, producer Trish Adlesic, and Joyful Heart Foundation CEO Maile Zambuto.