President Obama Just Passed A Revolutionary Sexual Assault Bill

By Peyton Carper on October 8, 2016

Amidst the controversy surrounding Donald Trump’s latest horrific comments, some good news has come out of the White House; President Obama just signed a bill into law that will protect victims of sexual assault when they come forward to bring their cases to court. Titled the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act, the bill passed on October 7 deals most directly with the treatment of rape kits. The legislation states that survivors must be informed of the results of their rape kits, which, shockingly, was not a requirement before this bill. More importantly, the kits must be preserved for the state’s maximum statute of limitations, and survivors can request that the kits be preserved for longer than that period if need be. (The entirety of the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Right Act, as well as its progression through the House and Senate, can be read here.)

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This legislation was inspired by the case of Amanda Nguyen, a young woman who was forced to fight to keep her rape kit from being destroyed before it could be brought into court. She founded and is now the leader of Rise, an organization dedicated to defending the rights of sexual assault victims. Having been introduced in February of 2016, this bill has been quite a long time in the making, and it’s fantastic news for victims of sexual assault that it has finally come to fruition.

In the wake of the sickening Brock Turner rape case, whose victim saw only the faintest shred of justice against her rapist, this legislation is incredibly important to victims of sexual assault who demand justice against their attackers. Only 344 of every 1000 instances of sexual assault are reported to police, meaning that almost 2 of 3 cases see no legal action. Many victims who choose not to come forward with their accusations do so because they fear the consequences should their attackers serve short sentences, as Brock Turner did, or, even worse, don’t even get sentenced. Attorneys of those accused of rape often attempt to have rape kits thrown out in order to protect their clients, and this new bill will prevent that from being done.

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In the same week that Donald Trump has been revealed as perpetuating sexual assault being acceptable and just part of life for people of his power and status, this bill coming to life is incredibly important for offsetting the terrible messages about sexual assault and its victims that have been perpetuated in our society today.

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