Violence Against Women

Congress Passes Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights

On Tuesday Congress unanimously passed the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, which ensures that victims do not bear the financial cost of their own rape kits and that they will be appropriately informed of that kit’s results and legal status.

While the bill only applies to federal cases, advocates say it is an important step to ensure that victims are kept in the forefront of any rape investigation, and not just treated as another piece of evidence.

The legislation was crafted by Amanda Nguyen, a sexual assault survivor who learned that she would have to file an extension request with the state of Massachusetts every six months if she didn’t want her rape kit destroyed. An important part of the bill is that law enforcement will now be required to contact survivors 60 days before kits are scheduled to be discarded.

But this bill does not address a host of other issues surrounding rape kits, including a national backlog of an estimated 400,000 untested rape kits. After being violently attacked and then undergoing an invasive gynecological examination to collect evidence, the least the criminal justice system can do is take sexual assault and its victims seriously.

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