Mariska Hargitay Exposes the Shocking Number of Untested Rape Kits in Powerful HBO Documentary

I Am Evidence premieres Monday, April 16 on HBO

Mariska Hargitay is on a mission to shine a light on the staggering number of untested rape kits in the United States today.

Hargitay is the producer behind I Am Evidence, a powerful documentary that exposes the hundreds of thousands of kits containing potentially crucial DNA evidence, languishing untested in police evidence storage rooms across the country despite the power of DNA to solve and prevent crimes.

The documentary, which debuted last year at the Tribeca Film Festival, will premiere Monday, April 16 on HBO. In PEOPLE’s exclusive trailer, above, Hargitay, 54, proves she’s determined to raise awareness — and won’t back down.

“You don’t tell me what I can and can’t do,” says the actress, who has long played Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. “All it takes is focus, dedication and commitment.”

“The rape kit backlog is the most shocking demonstration of how we regard these crimes,” she adds. “You can’t change or fix what happened to one person. What you can change is what might happen to someone else.”

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Behind each of these untested kits — and there are over 200,000 in the U.S. — lies an individual’s unresolved sexual assault case. The documentary follows stories of survivors who have waited years for their kits to be tested, as well as the law enforcement officials who are leading the charge to work through the backlog and pursue long-awaited justice in these cases.

“I am evidence that this is not just a kit,” says one. “This is a person.”

The film was directed by Oscar nominee Trish Adlesic and Emmy winner Geeta Gandbhir.

I Am Evidence premieres Monday, April 16 on HBO.

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