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WASHINGTON -- Starting next year, adult rape victims too afraid or too ashamed to go to police can undergo an emergency-room forensic rape exam, and the evidence gathered will be kept on file in a sealed envelope in case they decide to press charges.
The new federal requirement that states pay for "Jane Doe rape kits" is aimed at removing one of the biggest obstacles to prosecuting rape cases: Some women are so traumatized they don't come forward until it is too late to document their injuries and collect hair, semen or other samples.
Beginning in 2009, states will have to pay for Jane Doe kits to continue receiving funding under the federal Violence Against Women Act.