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Human Interest

President Obama Signs Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights Into Law

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THE STAFF OF RISE
Courtesy Amanda Nguyen

Last week, 24-year-old Amanda Nguyen changed the way the government handles sexual assault and rape.

On Friday, President Obama signed the Sexual Assault Survivor Bill of Rights — also known as H.R. 5578 — into law.

The bill received bipartisan support, passing unanimously through both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The bill was written and championed by Nguyen — a rape survivor — and the advocacy organization she created, Rise.

The Bill of Rights gives survivors of sexual assault and rape the right to have their rape kits and other evidence preserved for the length of the statue of limitations, the right to be notified 60 days before it is destroyed, the right to request for the kit to be kept further and the right to be notified of any test results that come of any rape kit. Survivors also most be given written notice of their rights, and an active group must assess how effective these policies are.

“We want to thank President Obama for signing the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights into law,” Nguyen said. “This historic piece of legislation codifies the federal rights of the 25 million rape survivors in America and serves as a model for Statehouses to adopt.”

The additional layer of trauma Nguyen found in dealing with the criminal justice system in the aftermath of her own rape led her to create her non-profit organization, which is dedicated to preserving and furthering the rights of survivors.

Nguyen and the members of Rise weren’t the only ones celebrating:

New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who sponsored the bill, also released a statement, “Beginning today, our nation’s laws stand firmly on the side of survivors of sexual assault.”

But Rise’s work isn’t over yet: They want there to be similar laws in place in all 50 states, and that’s what they’ll be working on next.

“Rise will now turn its efforts to state legislatures to ensure these critical rights are enacted in all 50 states,” Nguyen said.