New York will establish a bill of rights for sexual assault survivors in 2019, becoming the 15th state to do so.
The new protections will include the rights to consult with a victim assistance organization during physical exams and interviews after the assault, to receive examinations, preventive treatment from HIV and other health care services at no cost, and the right to get updates on rape kits and the status of cases.
The legislation, which also requires survivors to be notified of their rights, was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday. It passed the State Assembly and State Senate in June.
“This is a great day that puts in place a missing protection for sexual assault survivors and bringing more compassion to the law enforcement response to survivors,” said Assemb. Aravella Simotas (D-Queens), who sponsored the bill.
There are 6.8 million sexual assault survivors in New York, according to Rise, an advocacy group that drafted and helped pass a survivors’ bill of rights at the federal level in 2016. Since then, the group has worked to pass similar legislation in all 50 states.
Many of the organizers with Rise are survivors of sexual assault and have experienced “the gaps and downfalls of the criminal justice system,” Amanda Nguyen, founder and CEO of Rise, said in a statement to amNewYork.
“I’m hopeful that with the passage of the Survivors’ Bill of Rights in New York, all survivors will be treated with dignity and equality under the law, that trauma-informed advocates and medical professionals will assist survivors with any and all questions, and no one will be left in the dark about their own personal forensic evidence or details of their case,” she said.
Earlier this year, Rise also worked with state legislators to pass legislation that extended the amount of time rape kits are maintained from 30 days to 20 years.
The bill of rights must be created and complete within 180 days of the signing of the legislation, the governor’s office said.