There is currently a recommend diary about this topic.
This diary isn't a rebuttal to that diary or news article. Please read this as complementary diary and another dimension to the article published by the New York Times.
The processing of rape kits is complicated. The NY Times article was correct that there are thousands of unprocessed rape kits that sit in police warehouses.
However the story on WHY this happens is a little bit more nuanced.
Let's talk about a rape kit and what happens. A rape kit is more than just a vaginal exam. It is your worst idea of pap smear plus a rectal exam plus a white light to search for any secretions on your body (saliva, blood, semen, etc), plus a blood sample, plus a surrender of your clothes, plus a photography session that would make a porn star blush should there be any visible marks or bruising. All of this is collected and handled in a VERY particular way (as it is police evidence) and we have to establish and maintain chain of command. This all gets boxed up and sent off to either a lab or warehouse depending on what you decided as a survivor.
As a rape counselor, I ALWAYS encourage women and men to get a rape kit. You can't go back and collect this evidence. No matter how bad you feel right now, you may feel worse if you have washed away evidence. I don't pressure anyone into getting a rape kit. It's a personal decision and frankly some people have had enough and want to go home. A good bargaining tactic I use is that if you DON'T want to move forward with prosecution..no one will EVER look at the results.
The police will not look at the results of a rape kit, nor will they process it unless you move forward with charges.
Look in a perfect world, we would process 100% of the results. We would add blood/DNA found to a database and we would cross reference it. We would be able to tie together serial rapists (because most rapists are serial).
Life isn't perfect. Women/Men who get raped aren't all virgin's who got jumped. They are sexual active individuals that may have specimen samples from one or many people. They may have STI's that they aren't willing to have logged or disclosed. All these pieces of medical information are personal and we should treat them as so.
A lot of these rape kits are sitting in warehouse BECAUSE of the crappy environment that exists to prosecute rape. We have uninterested public, prosecutors, police and blame the victim society. Women/men would rather sit and home and "forget" than deal with the crappy legal system and court of public opinion.
Change these elements. Until then, you will see a backlog of unprocessed rape kits.
*I 100% would pressure any prosecutor that would not process a rape kit of any survivor who wanted to move forward with their case. Those kits not being processed is reprehensibly.