On International Women's Day, Senator Shaheen Calls on Congress to Act on Her Legislation to Empower Survivors of Sexual Assault

March 08, 2016

**At Together for Girls “Every Hour Matters” event in the U.S. Capitol, Shaheen highlights her legislation that would provide common sense rights to survivors of sexual assault as they pursue justice**  

(Washington, DC)—On International Women’s Day, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) called on Congress to take action to empower survivors of sexual assault by passing her Sexual Assault Survivors' Rights Act. Senator Shaheen made her remarks at an event in the U.S. Capitol sponsored by the nonprofit Together for Girls to highlight the importance of improving treatment for women and girls around the world who have been sexually assaulted. The Sexual Assault Survivor’s Rights Act codifies basic rights for survivors of sexual assault and builds on the success of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act to address unique challenges faced by sexual assault survivors, particularly regarding access to and preservation of sexual assault evidence collection kits. The bill would empower survivors to make more informed decisions throughout the criminal justice process, and supports state efforts to better notify survivors of available resources as well as applicable state rights and policies. In addition, the bill would establish a joint Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services working group to more effectively implement best practices regarding the care and treatment of survivors across the country.

(March 8, 2016 – Senator Shaheen addresses attendees at the Together for Girls International Women’s Day Event)

A high-resolution version of the photo is available here. 

“Today, as we renew our call for gender equality, it’s important to recognize the neglect and callous treatment that many sexual assault survivors experience both here at home and around the world,” said Shaheen. “The trauma of sexual assault is often compounded by the emotional trauma of a legal system that places needless obstacles in the path of survivors seeking justice. Our goal with this legislation is to change the culture around how sexual assault survivors are treated in our criminal justice system.  My legislation will help create an environment where survivors feel like the system is working for them, not against, and today, I’m calling on Congress take up this important effort.”

Currently, depending on the jurisdiction, sexual assault survivors often experience a complex and cryptic maze of policies that deter them from pursuing justice. Senator Shaheen authored this legislation,  working closely with Rise, a national nonprofit, led by Amanda Nguyen, a sexual assault survivor who has bravely shared her harrowing experience navigating the criminal justice system.

(Amanda Nguyen, founder and president of Rise, meets with Senator Shaheen to discuss the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Rights Act)

A high-resolution version of the photo is available here.

“Justice for sexual assault survivors should not depend on geography,” said Amanda Nguyen, founder and president of Rise. “This federal Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, which brings together common sense best practices, is the first step to having uniform basic rights for survivors across the country.”

Some key rights that would be established by the bill include:

  • The right to have a sexual assault evidence collection kit preserved for the entire relevant statute of limitations.
  • The right to be notified in writing 60 days prior to the destruction of a sexual assault evidence collection kit.
  • The right to request further preservation of a sexual assault evidence collection kit.
  • The right to be informed of important results of a sexual assault forensic examination.

The bill has been endorsed by RAINN, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV), International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN), Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations (CFSO), NH Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the VT Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.