The D.C. Council unanimously voted a bill that expands the rights of sexual assault victims on Tuesday.
Under the title “Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights Amendment Act of 2019,” the new legislation lowers the age of a sexual assault victim to include anyone minimum 12 years old.
It stipulates new rights such as access to a victim advocate for survivors aged 13 and older, as well as a professional specialized in supporting crime victims to be present during interviews with police and prosecutors. In addition, victims can now contact advocates over the phone when necessary and hospital access is expanded.
Other measures introduced with the legislation include ensuring that every hospital in D.C. has advocacy services available and that sexual assault counselors receive required training in trauma-informed care.
Ward 6 Council member Charles Allen and his team drafted the bill in over a year based on their discussions with survivors of sexual attack, health care professionals and organizations that work in the field.
“Someone who has experienced a sexual assault should be able to go to any hospital and receive the full range of services they’re entitled to,” Allen said on October 22 during the bill’s reading at the D.C. Council.
Prior to the new legislation, both child and adult victims had to look for a specific hospital for receiving care.
“There should be no wrong door for a sex assault victim,” according to Allen.