Amanda N. Nguyen ’13, founder and president of advocacy group Rise, criticized the lack of support the legal system affords sexual assault victims and emphasized young people’s ability to change that system during an address in Currier House Monday.
Nguyen has made national headlines in recent months for her advocacy for individuals who have been sexually assaulted. In early September, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act, which outlines legal rights for victims of sexual assault, including ensuring that rape kits are preserved until “the expiration of the maximum applicable statute of limitations.” The Senate version of the bill passed unanimously in May, and President Barack Obama signed the bill on Oct. 7.
“People don’t know how broken the criminal justice system is for survivors,” Nguyen said. “People don’t know that in some states survivors don’t have access to their medical information, people don’t know that in some states survivor’s rape kits are destroyed before the statute of limitations.”
It is rare for bills to pass at the federal level with such high levels of bipartisan support.
Nguyen, along with her partners at Rise, authored the bill. Rise also authored a similar bill that passed in the Massachusetts State House on Oct. 11 and was signed by the Massachusetts Governor on Oct. 19. The bill was inspired by Nguyen’s experiences navigating the criminal justice system as a victim of sexual assault.
Since the bill’s passage at the state and federal levels, 19 states have reached out to Rise to inform the group of their intent to pass similar pieces of legislation. Nguyen said Rise will be involved in the research and legislative processes in those states. Other nations, such as Japan, have also asked Rise to help write similar legislation.
A mix of College and graduate students attended the conversation, which was sponsored by Currier House Faculty Dean Latanya A. Sweeney.
Nguyen, who this past month left her job as Deputy White House Liaison at the State Department to dedicate herself full-time to her job at Rise, has previously worked at NASA and plans to become an astronaut.
“We can see the victory line, and that victory line is states taking those civil rights seriously,” Nguyen said. “Hope is contagious; if you are able to shine a spotlight on something that is a problem, you can solve it.”—Staff writer Ignacio Sabate can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ignacio_sabate.
Students Help Draft Sexual Assault Legislation
Support Sexual Assault VictimsWe applaud the Harvard students, other activists, and government officials involved in drafting this legislation, and we urge Massachusetts legislators to pass it.
The Ripple EffectBeing sexually assaulted had paradoxically made me ignore his sense of safety and his agency. I was passing on to him the burden of my assault without his consent.
Sexual Assault IS Our FaultAs founders of the Our Harvard Can Do Better campaign, we write to clarify how rape culture operates and how it complicates the responsibility of community members.
If Betsy DeVos Won’t Do It, Harvard MustHarvard must combat the narrative of DeVos’s decision—automatically doubting survivors’ allegations of sexual assault—and, instead, fully attend to students involved in sexual harassment cases.