President Obama Signs 1st Rape Survivor’s Bill of Rights Into Law

The law will give sexual assault victims specific rights, including counseling and free access to rape kits.

President Barack Obama in 2012
President Barack Obama in 2012 Martin H. Simon-Pool/Getty Images

President Barack Obama signed the Survivors Bill of Rights Act into law Friday, after it was passed by Congress on Wednesday night. The Senate passed the bill in May.

The law was drafted in support of sexual assault survivors and provides specific rights to those who are survivors of rape in terms of law enforcement, counseling and how rape kits are handled.

Mother Jones reports that as of 2014, more than 100,000 rape kits have languished for years in police warehouses and crime labs, going untested.

Erykah Badu actually did a July concert in Detroit to raise money so that the more than 10,000 rape kits found in a warehouse in 2009 could be tested.

Fusion reports that the new legislation means that survivors will have access to sexual assault counselors and more information about their rights and will be able to track when and where their rape kit is tested by law enforcement, if they choose to submit one.

According to Mother Jones, survivors can no longer be charged fees or prevented from getting a rape-kit examination, even if they have not yet decided to file a police report. The kits must be preserved, at no cost to the survivor, until the applicable statute of limitations runs out. Also, survivors will now be able to request that authorities notify them before destroying their rape kits, and if they choose to keep the evidence, it has to be preserved. Survivors will also have the right to be notified of DNA-profile matches if a hit comes up on the kit.

The bill was partly drafted by 24-year-old Amanda Nguyen, a rape survivor who is currently a White House deputy liaison at the State Department. Nguyen is also founder of the sexual assault survivor advocacy organization Rise.

Read more at Mother Jones and Fusion.