National News

US officials warn about DIY rape kits

Two US companies are under fire for saying they want to sell do-it-yourself rape kits to sexual assault survivors.

Attorneys general in several states have sent cease-and-desist letters to the MeToo Kits Company, based in New York City, and the New Jersey-based The Preserve Group.

The authorities say the evidence-collection kits are no substitute for a professional forensic exam.

"Sexual assault is a real problem that demands a real response," New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, said on Thursday.

"Proper medical attention and accurate evidence collection are of critical importance to supporting survivors.

"I am deeply concerned about companies selling kits that deter individuals from seeking professional care and purport to collect evidence without knowing whether the evidence will be admissible in court."

Oklahoma's attorney general Mike Hunter issued a similar warning and urged people not to use the products, saying they have "no value whatsoever".

The attorneys general in Michigan and Virginia have also complained, saying the job of collecting evidence of sexual assault, including DNA samples, is best left to experts.

Judges, they said, are unlikely to allow evidence collected by amateurs to be used in a trial.

The founders of both companies have said their goal is to empower survivors of sexual assault, not to discourage people from going to police.

© AP 2019