Shaheen, Rep. Wasserman Schultz & Advocacy Groups Applaud House Passage of Shaheen-Authored Legislation to Establish Basic Rights for Sexual Assault Survivors
**The Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act was passed in the House as part of the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act of 2016**
**Shaheen: The Sexual Assault Survivors' Rights Act is now one giant step closer to reaching the President’s desk**
(Washington DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) issued the following statements after legislation authored by Sen. Shaheen and introduced by Rep. Wasserman Schultz to establish basic rights for survivors of sexual assault passed the House of Representatives today. The Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act was passed by the Senate unanimously in May as part of the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act. Introduced in the House by Reps. Wasserman Schultz and Lamar Smith (R-TX), the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act passed as part of the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act of 2016 – legislation that has broad bipartisan support. The legislation will return to the Senate to reconcile the slight differences in the House and Senate versions.
“Today’s vote is a significant step forward for survivors of sexual assault who must navigate the complex maze of our criminal justice system to seek their right to justice,” said Senator Shaheen, who authored the Sexual Assault Survivors' Rights Act. “It’s been just over a year since Amanda Nguyen walked into my office and recounted the heartbreaking story of what happened after she reported her assault. The system failed Amanda, but it doesn’t have to fail the hundreds of thousands of other Americans who experience sexual violence each year. The Sexual Assault Survivors' Rights Act is now one giant step closer to reaching the President’s desk. I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate, as well as organizations across the country, for putting their weight behind this legislation so that we can change the culture of sexual assault.”
“The passage of H.R. 5578 is a critical step towards eliminating the confusing patchwork of laws that have robbed sexual assault survivors of the justice they deserve. A strong, comprehensive law that protects their basic human rights will help them step out of the shadows that the status quo has created. I once again thank Senator Shaheen for her work in authoring the Senate-passed version of this bill and look forward to President Obama signing it into law,” said Rep. Wasserman Schultz.
“This common-sense bill helps to ensure that no matter where in the country they happen to reside, survivors of sexual assault will have access to things like a clear summary of their rights in the criminal justice system and clear guidance as to when and how rape kit evidence will be preserved. Empowering survivors with this information serves the public interest in public safety — if we make it easier for even one victim to come forward and pursue justice, we’re doing something right. We look forward to seeing this become law, and to working to ensure the House of Representatives continues, this fall, to prioritize justice for all,” said Rebecca O'Connor, Vice President for Public Policy, Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).
“We've seen over and over that we can't just assume survivors' needs will be considered in the criminal justice system. This bill is an important step to make sure survivors are explicitly protected, and we applaud its passage,” said Terri Poore, Policy Director of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.
“Sexual violence continues to impact millions of women and men in the United States each year, and too often, justice is not served for survivors. By passing the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act, Congress has taken an important step forward in reforming and improving responses to sexual violence. This vital bill helps to ensure that survivors’ reports are taken seriously, that medical evidence is collected and preserved, and that a survivor’s right to information is honored throughout the investigative process. No survivor should have to fear seeking medical attention or reporting to law enforcement; survivors should be able to trust that their dignity and rights will be respected. By working together with survivors, medical providers, law enforcement, prosecutors, and advocates can create change and prevent further violence. As we mark this progress, we also renew our commitment to our sustained advocacy and education for women and girls. JWI will continue our work to prevent sexual violence, foster healthy relationships, and change the culture for a safer tomorrow,” said Jewish Women International CEO Lori Weinstein.