In an emotional ceremony held at the Statehouse Tuesday afternoon, legislators and citizen activists gathered to watch Gov. Phil Scott sign two bills passed earlier this year that extend Vermont’s protections for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
This legislation enacts a so-called Bill of Rights for Sexual Assault Survivors and eliminates the statute of limitations for sexual assault and child pornography, which were both previously six years. It also expands the state’s program of sexual assault nurse examiners, who prepare evidence kits after cases of sexual assault.
Vermont’s new “Bill of Rights” was modeled after similar legislation passed unanimously by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama last year. Amanda Nguyen, drafter of that piece of legislation and founder of the nationwide advocacy group Rise, attended Tuesday’s bill signing.
“I still remember what it felt like the day I walked out of the hospital after my rape kit examination,” Nguyen said. “I had never more fully understood the definition of lonely. Today, I am not alone. And I want to say thank you for that. Thank you for caring about civil rights.”