On Senate Floor, Shaheen Urges Support for Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Rights of Sexual Assault Survivors Nationwide

November 13, 2019

Shaheen on senate floor

Shaheen speaking on the floor of the Senate on the importance of passing the Survivors’ Bill of Rights in the States Act

(Washington, DC) – This afternoon, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in support of the Survivors’ Bill of Rights in the States Act, their bipartisan legislation that would encourage states to ensure that federal rights for survivors of sexual assault - which were codified by Shaheen’s Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act – are also recognized and protected at the state level. 

You can watch Shaheen’s remarks in full here. 

Shaheen highlighted the immense challenges survivors of sexual assault faced before her Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act was signed into law, noting how she heard stories from survivors about how evidence of their assault was destroyed without their consent or how they were forced to follow up with law enforcement to ensure their evidence was preserved. “Instead of a process that helped them move forward with their lives as they pursued justice, survivors were confronted with the trauma of reliving their attacks each time they sought to preserve evidence or gather information about their case.” 

The signing of Shaheen’s Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act into law provided survivors with greater protections in federal cases with a focus on notice, access and the preservation of sexual assault evidence collection kits, and provided states with a model on which they could craft their own legislation. However, only 21 states, including New Hampshire, have moved forward with passing laws to protect the rights of survivors.  “No survivor should be compelled to bear the indignity of petitioning law enforcement merely to ensure that they are given a fair shake in the criminal justice process,” continued Shaheen

Through passage of the Survivors’ Bill of Rights in the States Act, the Attorney General would be authorized to make grants available to states that have passed laws providing the rights guaranteed under the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act

In closing, Shaheen urged her colleagues to support her new bipartisan bill with Senator Grassley, stating, “I think it’s important that Congress again show survivors that we are behind them. That we will stand up with them for their rights. The Survivors’ Bill of Rights in the States Act would do just that. Senator Grassley, I’m so pleased to be joining you in this effort. I think with this bipartisan support, we can get support from all of our colleagues to enact this follow-on legislation into law and provide the additional support that survivors need.” 

Senator Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to safeguard the Office on Violence Against Women and programs operated under VAWA. As the lead Democrat of the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, Shaheen has repeatedly negotiated record-level federal funding to support grants provided through the Office on Violence Against Women. Shaheen fought to reauthorize VAWA in 2013, working to help end the gridlock that had prevented its passage, and has continued to urge Senate Republican leadership to consider the House-passed VAWA reauthorization legislation. The only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Shaheen has been a relentless advocate for women and girls in the United States and around the world. In the last Congress, Shaheen led the bipartisan effort to reintroduce the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), which would ensure combating gender-based violence around the world remains a top diplomatic and development priority for the United States.