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For this week’s paper, I wrote a story detailing some of the historical problems that rape victims have faced in attempting to receive a rape kit in Washington, D.C. Rape kits are hours-long medical forensic exams administered in order to collect evidence from a victim’s body following a sexual assault. The D.C. SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) program, which performs the exams at Washington Hospital Center, allowed us to document each component of a District rape kit in order to better understand the process. Photos by Darrow Montgomery.

A cabinet storing rape kits at Washington Hospital Center.

A rape kit is known as a “Physical Evidence Recovery Kit,” or PERK.

A white sheet is placed under the victim to collect debris from her body.

Clothing is collected and stored in a paper bag.

Swabs and glass slides are used to collect evidence from the body.

Swabs for the lips and lip area.

A sample of the victim’s saliva.

A sample from the victim’s cheek.

An envelope for storing hair contaminated with semen.

A sample of the victim’s head hair.

A bag for collecting the victim’s underwear.

A bag for the victim’s tampon or sanitary napkin.

An envelope for collecting the pubic hair combings.

The comb.

A sample of the victim’s pubic hair.

Swabs for the thighs and external genitalia.

Swabs for the vagina and cervix.

Swabs for the perianal and buttocks.

Swabs for the anus and rectum.

Miscellaneous swabs.

An envelope for collecting other material on the victim’s body.

A sample of the victim’s blood.

A seal for the completed kit.

A bag for transporting the completed kit.

The safe used to store completed kits.