SACRAMENTO–California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) won final approval from the state Legislature of her Sexual Assault Victims Bill of Rights legislation.
The bill helps make sure sexual-assault survivors receive proper treatment from the criminal-justice system. It requires, among other things, that police avoid destroying rape-test kits prematurely and that rape victims are made aware of all their rights.
AB 1312 passed the Assembly Monday on a 62-0 vote after passing the Senate by a 40-0 margin on Sept. 7. Gov. Jerry Brown has until Oct. 15 to sign into law or veto the legislation.
“Sexual assault victims must cope with an incomprehensible amount of trauma,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher said. “We need to make sure the criminal justice system provides them with all the help, respect and resources they need and deserve. The Sexual Assault Victims Bill of Rights helps makes sure this happens.”
Sexual assault is both widespread and underreported. California is home to an estimated 8.6 million sexual assault survivors, the majority of whom are women. According to data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey of 2010, one in five women are victims of rape, and one in two women are victims of sexual violence other than rape at some point in their lives.
The Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights eases the burden on sexual assault survivors in a number of important ways. The proposed law requires survivors be given a standardized card outlining their rights and the resources available to them. The bill requires women be provided birth control after their assault. Crucially, the bill also requires law enforcement agencies to preserve all rape test kits collected until the cases associated with them are solved.