RAINN Working to Secure Federal Funding for Rape Kits, Forensic Nurses

This April, RAINN’s public policy team will be focusing on a few pieces of bipartisan federal legislation vital to getting justice for survivors of sexual violence. As members of Congress meet throughout the month to work on fiscal year 2021 appropriations, “RAINN will be there to make sure that legislators prioritize funding that will give survivors more access to sexual assault forensic nurse examiners and reduces the rape kit backlog,” says Camille Cooper, vice president of public policy.

At the end of December, Congress renewed the Debbie Smith Act for another five years. Though this was an important step towards justice, the next step is equally crucial—to secure funding to ensuring survivors get the help they deserve through the bill.

“This was a huge win, but there’s still a lot of work to be done to make sure the funding that’s been promised will be set aside,” says Cooper. “Every year, we work with lawmakers to ensure that the funding comes through for survivors. This year, we’re asking Congress to fully fund the Debbie Smith Act at $151 million.”

RAINN will be working to push through two other vital pieces of federal legislation this spring: the Survivors Access to Supportive Care Act (SASCA) and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), last renewed in 2013. While VAWA is up for renewal, SASCA is a new initiative.

“Both of these bills are vital to making sure survivors get the care they deserve,” says Cooper. “SASCA will help expand survivors’ access to trained sexual assault forensic nurse examiners, and VAWA provides critical grants to local communities to assist and support survivors of sexual violence.”

To stay up to date with RAINN’s policy work and to help support these critical efforts, sign up to receive RAINN’s policy updates or check out the RAINN policy Twitter @rainnaction.

The rape kit backlog is currently one of the biggest obstacles to prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence.

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Out of every 1,000 sexual assaults, 310 are reported to the police.

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