In the past few years the topic of sexual assault has come to the forefront of national conversation. More and more survivors are coming out to speak about their experiences and advocate for change in our society’s reaction to claims of sexual assault or harassment. High-profile cases, like the Brock Turner case, assign light sentences for the perpetrator and have disgusted the general public and have strengthened the call for stronger sexual assault laws.
Today, we have taken a step in the right direction now that the Survivor’s Bill of Rights Act has officially become law. This bipartisan act intends to improve the process of seeking treatment and legal justice for survivors. According to the House of Representatives’ press release on the bill from July 2016:
“Representatives Mimi Walters (R-Calif.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) introduced this bipartisan bill to ensure that sexual assault survivors in federal criminal cases have a right to a sexual assault evidence collection kit, are notified in writing before the kit is destroyed, request preservation of the kit, and are informed of important results from a forensic examination. The Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act also requires the Attorney General and the United States Department of Health and Human Services to convene a joint working group on best practices regarding the care and treatment of sexual assault survivors and the preservation of forensic evidence.”
Speaker Ryan’s press office published a statement praising the bill, and asserting that, “victims of sexual assault deserve full protection under the law – and this legislation reaffirms the fact that their right to justice is unconditional."