Meet the 24-Year-Old Who Is Going to Change the Way the U.S. Handles Sexual Assault Cases
News| | By Lauren Boudreau
When Amanda Nguyen, State Department liaison to the White House, was raped in Cambridge, Massachusetts two years ago, she went to the hospital right away and received a rape kit. However, she was then informed via hospital pamphlet that her rape kit would be destroyed in six months. Curious, as Massachusetts has a 15-year statute of limitations for sexual crimes, she wondered why they would destroy it after only six months.
Nguyen then had to search for ways she could keep her rape kit from being destroyed. She discovered she could get an “extension,” but every six months she had to pay for the kit to be kept and hunt for its location within the system.
“The system essentially makes me live my life by date of rape,” Nguyen said.
The 24-year-old knew she had to take things into her own hands in order to fix the system for everyone.
Enter the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act. The bill requires that victims have access to trained sexual assault counselors, can keep their rape kits preserved for free until the state’s statute of limitations is up, have the right to be notified of any information found in the kit, the kit locations, and whether it has been tested.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire is the bill’s primary backer and author. She said she expects the bill will do well as many Republicans and Democrats have come together on the issue of testing and preserving rape kits.
“Too many survivors feel like the entire system has failed them,” Shaheen said. “We need a basic set of rights for people who are sexually assaulted.”
Nguyen may be the one to change sexual assault cases as we know them, but she is also the head of an organization called Rise, a group of volunteers that helped spearhead her bill and present other issues of survivors’ rights to Congress.
If that weren’t enough, she is also currently training to be an astronaut. Nguyen hopes to be selected as one of NASA’s specialists and wants to go to Mars.