Bill of Rights for survivors of sexual assault advances

Bill of Rights for survivors of sexual assault advances

Nancy F. Munoz

TRENTON, N.J. – Nearly 20 percent of the state’s population, more than 1.8 million people, are survivors of sexual violence. Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz’s “Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights,” which cleared the Assembly Judiciary Committee today, seeks to ensure that sexual assault survivors can understand and access their full range of legal rights, services and options.

“Only a small portion of sexual assaults are ever reported to police,” said Munoz (R-Union). “We need to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect, inform and help all survivors of sexual assault, regardless of whether they decide to report it or not.”

The Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights (A1711) codifies existing laws into a list of rights to ensure victims receive uniform treatment from law enforcement, counselors and prosecutors. It also increases awareness of services and survivor rights by requiring postings on the Attorney General’s website and in hospitals, police stations and crisis centers.

“A national survey found that about one in three women and nearly one in six men experience some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime,” said Munoz. “This bill is a step in the right direction to providing access to much needed services.”

Under the measure, victims of sexual assault would be given the right to have their allegations treated seriously and with dignity and compassion, notified of existing medical and mental health services, and judicial rights, even if they decide not to report the crime. Anyone investigating the crime or providing services must also refrain from making suggestions that the victim was responsible for the crime.

The bill passed the Senate 40-0.