On April 18, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously passed SB 742, introduced by State Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf’s (R, 12), which would enact a comprehensive bill of rights in Pennsylvania for survivors of sexual assault.
The legislation reflects a federal Survivors’ Bill of Rights that was signed into law in 2016. Senator Greenleaf’s bill would guarantee basic rights for sexual assault survivors, including:
- Not to be prevented from, or charged for, receiving a forensic medical exam.
- Preserve their rape kit, without charge, for the full statute of limitations or 20 years, whichever is shorter.
- Be informed of any result of sexual assault evidence kit including DNA matches and toxicology reports.
- Be informed, in writing, of policies governing the collection and preservation of a sexual assault evidence kit.
- Upon written request, receive written notice within 60 days of intended destruction or disposal of evidence.
- Upon written request, be granted further preservation of the kit.
- Be informed of these rights.
Advocates for survivors of sexual assault, are pushing for every state to adopt a Bill of Rights for Survivors of Sexual Assault. The country lacks standard measures for sexual assault victims in reporting assaults, resulting in a patchwork of laws that fail to protect their liberties. Rise, a non-profit leading the movement, states that “some states routinely deny survivors access to their own police reports or refuse to tell survivors the medical results of their rape kit or destroy untested rape kits before the statute of limitations is up.”
The CDC estimates that there are 25 million current rape survivors. This is nearly equal to the total population of Texas. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network reports that every 98 seconds another American is sexually assaulted. In Pennsylvania, nearly 3,000 people reported being victims of rape in 2015.
“Sexual assault is a devastating crime, and the least we can do is ensure that victims have access to information from police reports and DNA matches, the right to a free forensic medical exam, and have rape kits preserved” said Senator Greenleaf. “With the federal law in place, every state should adopt a similar statement of guaranteed rights so that all survivors are protected at the state and local level.”
Washington, Oregon, Virginia, and Massachusetts have all passed a versions of the law.
SB 742 will now be considered by the House of Representatives.
Contact: Aaron Zappia (215) 657-7700