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Urge MA Legislators to Support Rape Survivor Rights

This petition made change with 6,760 supporters!

Earlier this year, I returned to the Massachusetts State House to testify on an issue that I am passionate about: justice for survivors of sexual assault. This journey began almost a year ago when I met a young woman who told me that the horror of her rape did not end with the crime itself. She described how traumatizing it was to not be informed of even her most basic rights. She explained to me how she struggled to locate her own rape kit and has lived, for several years, in a state of limbo, unsure whether it will be displaced or destroyed. Her experience is all too common.

This broken system works against those it is supposed to serve and, equally important, against those who work within it to make Massachusetts a better place, people I was proud to work with as Attorney General.

Currently, the lack of standardized and transparent procedures deprives 406,000 survivors living in Massachusetts of their basic liberties. After enduring the trauma of rape, survivors face secondary traumatization if systems remain opaque and inefficient.  It also hamstrings the work of law enforcement, prosecutors, and advocates as they strive tirelessly to support survivors and their ability to pursue justice. As a former district attorney, I know that law enforcement works best when we work alongside victims of crime. When our policies promote trust and help serve the needs of the community, we are all safer.

The Bill of Rights for Victims of Sexual Assault standardizes the best practices that we see working across the state and draws on the innovations that we’ve seen implemented across the country, from California to Washington, DC.

This bill:

· Protects access to a counselor: every survivor has a right to a sexual assault counselor. Waiving the right to a counselor once does not negate this.
· Establishes air and efficient rape kit procedures: missing or destroyed kits are unacceptable. To prevent this and delays, a tracking system must be developed. This makes our communities safer and keep survivors out of a distressing state of limbo.
· Prioritizes accountability and consistency: standardized procedures and access to clear information ensure that survivors understand their rights and options.
· Guarantees fundamental rights, no matter what: civil rights should never be contingent on reporting or pursuing legal action.
· Gathers diverse and experienced voices: assess progress and future actions with a task force made up of professionals who help survivors heal and seek justice, across diverse communities.

Join me in urging state legislators and the governor to move swiftly to make this bill law and continue Massachusetts’ tradition as a leader in civil rights. 

Today: Martha is counting on you

Martha Coakley needs your help with “Massachussets Legislators: Support Rape Survivor Rights”. Join Martha and 6,759 supporters today.