Survivors’ Bill Of Rights Gives Sexual Assault Victims Hope

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The Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights is the next monumental step in outlining the treatment of survivors.

1. Sexual Assault Survivors Get Basic Rights With New Bill

The Short of It:

On Monday night, the Senate unanimously passed a bill that standardizes the treatment of sexual assault survivors and gives them more rights. Including the ability to have their rape kits preserved until their statute of limitations expires.

The Longer Version of It:

The Senate unanimously passed a bill yesterday that provides survivors of sexual assault basic rights and puts an emphasis on ensuring that victims of sexual assault are afforded the legal help they deserve.

House Resolution 230, was introduced in April 2015, to persuade states to adopt what would essentially be a Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill Of Rights. The bill, which now has to pass the House of Representatives to become law, helps sexual assault survivors navigate the tumultuous waters of reporting a sexual assault and pursuing charges. The bill seeks to secure timely testing of rape kits, certify that rape kits are preserved until the statute of limitations runs out, alert survivors within 60 days before a rape kit is set to be disposed so that they can extend how long the kit is kept and allow survivors access to sexual assault counselors. The bill also means to grant survivors information on the results of their sexual assault forensic examination.

The Tid Bits:

Amanda Nguyen, a 24-year-old State Department liaison to the White House who is also in training to become an astronaut, is the engine behind House Resolution 230. Nguyen founded Rise - a nonprofit organization that serves survivors of sexual assault - in 2013 and became an activist because of her own struggles with protecting her rape kit. Two years ago, Nguyen survived a sexual assault and soon after submitting a rape kit, received a pamphlet that told her it would be destroyed unless she filed an "extension request". This meant that every six months when she had to petition her home state of Massachusetts not to toss out her rape kit, Nguyen had to relive the assault. In Massachusetts, all untested rape kits are tossed out after six months.

The Gist of It:

The bill will be the first of its kind to outline federal standards for attending to sexual assault cases and survivors. If bill is passed by the House and signed by President Barack Obama, it will be a monumental stride towards solving the country's backlog of untested and mishandled rape kits.