By Alicia Roberts

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. On Wednesday, a local lawmaker will make her case to create a statewide tracking system for rape kits in Pennsylvania.

Rape continues to be one of the most under-prosecuted crimes in the country. Local experts told Eyewitness News on Tuesday night that creating a platform where everyone from law enforcement to prosecutors to the victims themselves can access this data is key to changing that.

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Survivors of sexual assault and rape often face many burdens after the crime occurs, including the collection of key DNA evidence.

“There is no consistency around the county,” said Mary Onama, executive director of the Victims Services Center of Montgomery County. “For example, depending on which hospital you go to, you may not even get a rape kit exam.”

The next hurdle is processing that information.

“Within the United States and in Pennsylvania, rape kits are oftentimes lost,” Onama said. “Sometimes, they are not even stored properly.”

According to the most recent data from the health department, 153 kits were not processed at the end of 2020. Every time that happens, the risk of a rapist going unpunished skyrockets.

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“More than 80%, maybe even higher, of rapes are not successfully prosecuted,” Onama said.

“If the prosecutor is missing evidence that is key, the prosecutor has the burden of proof,” Rep. Joanna McClinton said.

It’s why McClinton is partnering with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape to pass legislation to create a statewide tracking system for rape kits.

“First and foremost, allow victims the transparency and information and peace of mind to know what is happening after they leave the hospital,” said Donna Greco, the public policy and legislative affairs director with Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.

The hope is that when a victim becomes their own advocate, both healing and justice will be served.

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New Jersey and Delaware are also among more than 20 states that also lack a state tracking system.

Alicia Roberts