Coming soon to your television set (or later to your Netflix binge): Vice President Joe Biden.
He’ll tape an appearance Friday on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” the popular and long-running procedural drama that focuses on sex crimes. Biden’s appearance will focus on the backlog of untested rape kits, according to the White House.
Combating violence against women has been one of the top issues of Biden’s political career. During his time as a senator from Delaware, he introduced the Violence Against Women Act, which eventually passed in 1994, and as vice president he has been involved in efforts to stop campus sexual assaults.
Biden has collaborated with “Law & Order: SVU” star Mariska Hargitay on advocacy efforts several times in the past. The two visited a domestic violence hotline together in 2013 and co-starred in a 2014 public service announcement. Hargitay narrated the video that played before Biden’s Democratic National Convention speech on Wednesday.
Biden announced plans last fall to award nearly $80 million in grants toward eliminating the backlog of untested rape kits, in a combined effort between the federal government and the New York County District Attorney’s office. Rape kits are containers that include information and specimens, such as blood samples and swabs, gathered in an exam after a sexual assault.
DNA evidence is often critical to prosecuting sex crimes, but more than 100,000 rape kits have never been tested, according to RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organization. In some states, they can be thrown in the trash, and no state gives a victim the right to retain a rape kit until the statute of limitations is up on the alleged crime.
Hargitay founded the Joyful Heart Foundation, which works with survivors of sexual and domestic violence. The organization gave Biden an award earlier this year for his work on the issues.
“When I wrote the Violence Against Women Act over 20 years ago, domestic violence was considered a private matter,” Biden said after receiving the award. “There was no hotline or special-victims units, and the legal system and public opinion routinely re-victimized the victim. I became convinced that if we pulled back the mask on this epidemic that occurred in the country, we can begin to not only change the laws, but we could change lives.”