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House Judiciary Committee Passes Shaheen-Authored Legislation to Establish Basic Rights for Sexual Assault Survivors

(Washington, D.C.) Legislation authored by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and introduced in the House by U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) to establish basic rights for survivors of sexual assault passed the House Judiciary Committee today as part of the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act of 2016. The Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act was passed unanimously by the Senate as part of the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act in May.

“This is another encouraging step forward in the pursuit of justice for survivors of sexual assault,” said Senator Shaheen. “It’s time to change the culture around how survivors are treated in our criminal justice system. Far too many survivors experience a criminal justice system that’s working against them, not for them. The Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act was overwhelmingly passed in the Senate and I hope to see the same result in the House so that we can send this bill to the President’s desk. I thank Representatives Wasserman Schultz, Walters and Smith for their leadership in the House on this important legislation.”

“For too long, sexual assault survivors have had to navigate a confusing patchwork of laws and regulations that have not done enough to help them access justice,” said Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz. “Our sexual assault survivors deserve a strong law to protect their most basic rights and I am pleased that this bill has taken a significant step towards becoming the law of the land. I thank Senator Shaheen for her leadership on this bill in the Senate, and look forward to continuing to work with my House colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure survivors are guaranteed a set of basic rights under Federal law.”

The Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act, authored and introduced in the Senate by Senator Shaheen, builds on the success of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act to address unique challenges faced by sexual assault survivors, particularly regarding notice, access, and preservation of sexual assault evidence collection kits. The bill would empower survivors to make more informed decisions throughout the criminal justice process by supporting state efforts to better notify survivors of available resources as well as applicable state rights and policies. Finally, the bill would establish a joint Department of Justice and Health and Human Services working group to more effectively implement best practices regarding the care and treatment of survivors across the country.