Shaheen, Grassley Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Survivors’ Rights Nationwide
**Legislation Builds on the Shaheen-Authored Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act That Was Signed into Law in 2016**
**Shaheen Has Lead Efforts in Congress to Support Survivors of Domestic & Sexual Violence**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that would help ensure federal rights for survivors of sexual assault – which were codified by Shaheen’s Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act – are recognized and protected at the state level.
The Survivors’ Bill of Rights in the States Act builds on Shaheen’s previous legislation by incentivizing states to guarantee survivor rights by offering eligibility for 10 percent of their STOP formula grant funding, the largest Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grant. The funding can be used to implement these rights, reduce the rape kit backlog, provide assistance and resources to survivors and preserve rape kits or their contents. In 2018, Shaheen lauded State Senator Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) for her work on legislation that was signed into law that codifies these rights in New Hampshire.
“While some states have taken action to support survivors of sexual assault, it is egregious that survivors still are not guaranteed rights or protected in the majority of our fifty states. To create a more uniform criminal justice system that wholly supports survivors and ensures accountability, every state must pass legislation that protects these rights,” said Shaheen. “My bill incentivizes states to do just that by codifying and standardizing survivor rights. I’m proud to help lead efforts in the Senate to change the culture around sexual assault and ensure survivors are supported in our justice system.”
“We must continue to support survivors of sexual assault and provide some much needed certainty about the preservation of evidence. Forensics kits are essential to delivering justice and holding perpetrators accountable,” Grassley said. “This bipartisan legislation encourages states to apply the same standards across the country and give survivor’s more resources to move forward.”
“Every 73 seconds an American is sexually assaulted,” Amanda Nguyen, founder and CEO of Rise, said. “We applaud Senators Grassley and Shaheen and Representatives Speier, Armstrong, and Lofgren for their leadership on this critical issue and are grateful that Congress is continuing to work together in a bipartisan way to support survivors across the country.”
“It is essential to give states the tools they need to pass strong protections for survivors of sexual assault. The Survivors Bill of Rights in the State Act incentivizes states to enact strong laws, and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence is grateful to Senators Shaheen and Grassley and Rep. Speier for their leadership on this important legislation,” Terri Poore, Policy Director, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, said.
The Survivors’ Bill of Rights in the States Act encourages states to ensure that survivors have, at minimum, the rights guaranteed to survivors under federal law. These rights include:
- The right not to be prevented from, or charged for, receiving a medical forensic examination.
- The right to have a sexual assault evidence collection kit or its probative contents preserved without charge for the maximum applicable statute of limitations or 20 years, whichever is shorter.
- The right to be informed of any result of a sexual assault evidence collection kit.
- The right to be informed in writing of policies governing the kit’s collection and preservation.
- The right, if the government intends to destroy or dispose of the kit, to receive written notice not later than 60 days before the date of the intended destruction or disposal, and the right, upon written request, to have the kit preserved.
Text of the bill is available here.
The bill is endorsed by RISE, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, End Rape on Campus and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), Shaheen has spearheaded efforts to protect survivors and help them seek justice. In December, Shaheen once again successfully added the highest funding amount ever for Violence Against Women Act programs in fiscal year (FY) 2021 government funding legislation that was signed into law. This week, Shaheen called on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to include funding for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs in the upcoming reconciliation package.
Throughout the pandemic, Senator Shaheen has worked to provide more resources and services to domestic violence survivors nationwide. She helped lead calls to Congressional leadership to include additional funding to support the victims of child abuse, domestic violence and dating violence in COVID-19 response legislation. Last month, she pushed for a swift vote in the Senate to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which expired two years ago, after the House passed the legislation. Last year, she visited the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence (NHCADSV) in Concord, where she met with NHCADSV’s leadership and representatives from crisis centers to hear more about the impact COVID-19 has had on survivors and the state’s crisis centers.