In the wake of the latest disgusting thing to come out of the mouth of Donald Trump, it’s encouraging to see at least one politician taking a stand to protect the rights of women instead of lewdly reducing them to conquests. On Friday afternoon, President Obama signed a new bill defending the rights of victims of sexual assault. Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act came from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who sponsored the bill after her interactions with Amanda Nguyen, a young woman who told a horrifying story of having to hound the police to not destroy her rape kit every six months.
The new bill states that all survivors have the right to a free rape kit, and that the kit cannot be thrown out until the statue of limitations expires. At that time, law enforcement must inform the individual with written notice 60 days before the deadline, and then must continue to hold onto the kit if the victim requests. It also states that all victims of sexual assault are to be informed of support services and information about their rape kits in writing, creating a paper trail that can’t be ignored.
The bill was created by Congress with unanimous approval, and was not only backed by Obama but also House Speaker Paul Ryan. In the midst of a deeply divided government landscape, Shaheen sees this partisan agreement as a real step forward.
“Amidst the partisan bickering and gridlock in Congress, this law demonstrates that citizens can still effect positive change and that bipartisan progress is still possible,” Shaheen said in a statement. “Sexual assault remains one of the most underreported crimes and I hope that these basic rights will encourage more survivors to come forward and pursue justice.”
Nguyen is also extremely pleased that her activism has born such significant fruit, as the bill is the first time that the phrase “sexual assault survivor” is written into federal code. She told BuzzFeed News,
“At the heart of this is a deep belief of equality under the law and making sure that when survivors do choose to engage with the justice system that they are met with something that is fair.”
This bill is a huge step forward for sexual assault victims seeking justice and a real victory for both sides of the political aisle.