Shaheen Introduces Bipartisan, Bicameral Survivors’ Bill of Rights in the States Act to Protect Survivors’ Rights Nationwide

November 12, 2019

**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, bicameral legislation with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Congressman Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) that would help ensure 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. This new legislation – the Survivors’ Bill of Rights in the States Act – builds on Shaheen’s previous legislation by incentivizing states to pass legislation that guarantees the survivor rights included in the federal legislation. Under the legislation, states that provide these rights will be eligible for 10 percent of their STOP formula grant funding, the largest Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grant.

“Sexual assault is a pervasive problem in our culture that must be rooted out. Our strategy to stop, reduce, and prevent sexual assault requires a comprehensive approach that must include robust support for survivors. That is precisely what this new, bipartisan legislation seeks to accomplish,” said Senator Shaheen. “Building off my legislation that ultimately became law – the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act – this new bill provides an incentive for states to pass legislation that guarantees survivors’ rights are protected in the criminal justice system. This legislation seeks to ensure that survivors’ rights in the justice system are consistent in every state, not just at the federal level. I appreciate the bipartisan, bicameral support to make sexual assault survivors’ rights a top priority in Congress, and I’ll continue to work across the aisle to push this bill forward.” 

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. 

The funding could be used to implement these rights, reduce the rape kit backlog, provide assistance and resources to survivors, and preserve rape kits or their contents. 

The bill is endorsed by RISE, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, End Rape on Campus and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. 

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, Senator 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, Senator 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.