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Tell the House: Stand up for survivors of sexual assault

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The petition to the House reads:

“Pass the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act.”

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    Tell the House: Stand up for survivors of sexual assault

    The national outrage over the six-month sentence given to convicted rapist Brock Turner highlighted the painful fact that our legal system systematically fails survivors of sexual assault.

    For too many of the 300,000 women who survive sexual assault every year in the United States, the trauma doesn’t end when the attack does. For every 1,000 rapes that happen, only 344 will be reported. Of those that are reported, only six rapists will ever be convicted.1 That means over 90 percent of rapists and attackers never face legal consequences for their actions.

    In a sexual assault case, a rape kit is one of the strongest pieces of evidence a woman can have that will help lead to a conviction for her attacker. However, in police departments across the country, there are hundreds of thousands of rape kits containing crucial evidence that are sitting untested in warehouses and store-rooms.2 In many states, sexual assault survivors are forced to pay for their own rape kits, which can then be thrown away after as little as six months, regardless of whether the rapist has been found and prosecuted.

    The Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act would standardize how rape-survivors are treated in the justice system — an important step towards ensuring that all victims of sexual assault get the respect and care that they deserve. The bill was recently passed by the Senate. It’s time for the House to act as well.

    Tell the House: Pass the Sexual Assault Survivors' Rights Act.

    The Sexual Assault Survivor’s Rights Act includes provisions to ensure that survivors have access to basic counseling services and information, and includes a comprehensive bill of rights for all survivors. The bill of rights includes, among other important protections:3

    1. The right to be notified of your rights in clear language
    2. The right to have evidence from a rape kit preserved until the statute of limitations runs out on the case
    3. The right to access your own medical information from your own rape kit
    4. The right to a copy of your own police report
    5. The right to be notified in writing 60 days before the destruction of the evidence found in your rape kit

    When rape kits go untested it shows rapists and perpetrators of sexual assault that no one will hold them accountable for their crimes. When survivors reporting their rape are left alone for hours without access to clear information and counseling services, it enforces the belief that reporting a sexual assault is more trouble than it’s worth. When evidence from rape kits are thrown in the garbage before the statute of limitations is even up on the case, it tells survivors of sexual assault that bringing their rapists to justice is not a priority of the system.

    That’s why we’re standing with our friends at RISE, whose founder, Amanda Nguyen, worked with allies in Congress to develop the Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights based on her personal experience as a survivor of sexual assault.4

    There has been a profound failure on behalf of state and federal government to protect survivors. The Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act is a vital step towards changing the environment for sexual assault survivors. They need to feel like the system is designed to support them, not work against them. Sign the petition to tell the House: Pass the Sexual Assault Survivors' Rights Act.

    Thank you for standing up for survivors of sexual assault.

    References:

    1. The Criminal Justice System: Statistics,” RAINN, accessed June 16, 2016.
    2. FACT SHEET: Investments to Reduce the National Rape Kit Backlog and Combat Violence Against Women,” The White House, Mar. 16, 2016.
    3. Shaheen, Blumenthal & Leahy Introduce Sexual Assault Survivors Rights Legislation in the Senate,” Jeanne Shaheen, US Senator for New Hampshire, Feb 23, 2016.
    4. Neesha Arter, “Navigating the broken system was worse than the rape itself,” New York Times, Feb. 4, 2016.