Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance had a very important announcement to make on Wednesday, and actress Mariska Hargitay was there to help and offer her support.
“Today our office is announcing a $35 million commitment to help to eliminate the backlog of untested rape kits nationwide," Vance said during the press conference that was held at his Manhattan office, according to the New York Observer. "The examination of those kits will provide DNA samples that I believe will solve previously unsolved sexual assaults throughout the country, and will bring some measure of closure to victims and survivors who have waited years for their cases to be resolved."
Hargitay has starred on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit for the past 15 years. She has portrayed the character of Olivia Benson, a NYPD detective who frequently works to solve sexual assault cases. Through playing her character as Detective Benson, Hargitay was inspired to help those who have suffered from sexual assaults in real life.
Hargitay's inspiration resulted in her creating the Joyful Heart Foundation. According to the organizations website, the Joyful Heart Foundation's mission "is to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and to shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues."
Yesterday was momentous, historical. 35 million dollars can #fixit. Could not be prouder or grateful, and some thank yous are in order...
— Mariska Hargitay (@Mariska) November 13, 2014
Through Vance's generous contribution, the municipalities around the country will be able to process their rape kits that have been backlogged for years. "This is, hands down, the biggest investment that anyone has made to reduce the backlog of untested rape kits in the United States," Hargitay said.
"To have hundreds of thousands of rape kits untested is unacceptable," Vance added. "Rape victims nationwide deserve to know that the invasive examination they underwent had a purpose, and the resulting kit was not left to gather dust on a forgotten shelf."