Posted on behalf of Chernenko Wheatley, Employee & Labor Relations Manager
President Barack Obama signed the Survivors Bill of Rights Act into law on Friday, October 7, 2016, after it was passed by Congress on Wednesday, October 5, 2016.
Amanda Nguyen, a 24 year old White House Deputy Liaison for the US State Department and survivor of sexual assault, founded the sexual assault survivor advocacy organization Rise and not only helped draft this federal bill and lobbied for it, but also helped draft a similar bill for Massachusetts.
The bill was drafted in support of providing sexual assault survivors with specific rights (specifically those who are survivors of rape) in terms of law enforcement, counseling and how rape kits are handled.
The new legislation means that survivors will have access to sexual assault counselors and more information about their rights and will be able to track when and where their rape kit is tested by law enforcement, if they choose to submit one.
Survivors can no longer be charged fees or prevented from getting a rape-kit examination, even if they have not yet decided to file a police report. The kits must be preserved, at no cost to the survivor, until the applicable statute of limitations runs out. Also, survivors will now be able to request that authorities notify them before destroying their rape kits, and if they choose to keep the evidence, it has to be preserved. Survivors will also have the right to be notified of DNA-profile matches if a hit comes up on the kit, toxicology report, or other information collected as part of a medical forensic examination (if such disclosure would not impede or compromise an ongoing investigation).