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The House Just Voted to Protect Survivors of Sexual Assault

The House Just Approved a Historic Bill of Rights Protecting Survivors of Sexual Assault
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A historic piece of legislation—the federalSurvivors' Bill of Rights,written to protect survivors of sexual assault when they come forward to report and amend how rape kits are handled in sexual assault cases—passed unanimouslyin the House on Tuesday night.

The bipartisan measure focuses heavily on the handling of rape kits,the medical exams thatsexual assaultsurvivors undergo to gather forensic evidence,which are notorious for being backlogged and frequently going untested.

Introduced by Representatives Mimi Walters (R-Calif.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) The legislation guarantees survivors of sexual assault have access to rape kits—specifically,the right to undergoing such evidence collection without being charged.It requires that survivors are informed of any test results associated with their rape kits,preserves the kits for a state's maximum statute of limitations (or up to 20 years),and requires that survivors be notified 60 days before the kit is set to be destroyed (survivors can then ask for their kit to preserved if they so wish).

"The uneven patchwork of laws across the country and the lack of substantive rights for sexual assault survivors prevent them from having full access to the justice system," Rep.Walterssaid周二,在众议院。"Survivors of sexual assault have faced unspeakable trauma,and they should not face unnecessary barriers to justice."

A similar bill,the Sexual Assault Survivors' Rights Act introduced by Sen.Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.),passed unanimously in the Senate in May.Technical differences between the two pieces of legislation will be settled before making its way to President Obama's desk,where he is all but guaranteed to sign the bill into law.