Hawaii Acts To Protect Children, Test Rape Kits

White box with an orange biohazard sticker and a label that reads "Sexual assault evidence collection kit."As state legislative sessions around the country begin to close, policymakers have considered a plethora of potential new state laws designed to combat sexual violence. Perhaps no state has been more active than Hawaii, which earlier this year passed two anti-sexual violence laws.

Awaiting the governor’s signature is House Bill 1907, which would require Hawaii law enforcement agencies and departments responsible for maintaining and storing rape kits to conduct an inventory of the state’s backlog. The bill also requires the state attorney general to report results of this audit to the legislature, along with a plan for how to reduce Hawaii’s rape kit backlog. RAINN, together with its partners in the Rape Kit Action Project (RKAP), advocated for this legislation as well as similar bills in more than 20 states. Hawaii is the eighth state to pass such a law in the last year.

Hawaii legislators also passed Senate Bill 2811, which makes it easier to terminate a rapist’s parental rights to children conceived from their crime. Current state law requires that rapists be convicted of the crime before having their parental rights terminated. Citing the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, which passed Congress in 2015 and encouraged states to make it easier to terminate parental rights, the new law creates a presumption that termination of a rapist’s parental rights is in the best interest of the child conceived as a result of the crime, doing away with the conviction requirement. “RAINN worked closely with survivors and Congress to pass the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, and we’re pleased that Hawaii has taken this important step to protect children,” said Patrick Fergusson, RAINN’s senior policy attorney.

Stay informed about these and additional policy initiatives, and be sure to check out opportunities to act with RAINN.

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