Meet the 24-year-old who could change how the US handles sexual assaults


No one should ever suffer an assault—let alone have to suffer and struggle in the aftermath as they seek care and justice. But that's just what happened to Amanda Nguyen. Nguyen, 24, has already accomplished much: She's a State Department liaison to the White House and an aspiring astronaut, but one of her biggest struggles was after she was sexually assaulted and had to navigate a confusing, broken system to try to keep her rape kit from being destroyed. It led Nguyen to research rights guaranteed to victims of sexual assault across various states, and to work with legislators and legal experts to draft new bills ensuring rights like a trained sexual assault counselor for survivors of sexual assaults, as well as information about their legal rights and the status of their rape kit.

Nguyen founded the Rise organization, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights of survivors of sexual assault. Activists and volunteers came together under Rise to research laws and protections in various states and eventually gathered support for a bill, which is expected to have bipartisan support and inspire more similar actions at the state level.

Read much more about the efforts of Nguyen and Rise, Nguyen's personal story and tenacity, the legal difficulties faced by survivors of sexual assault and more in the full article. - In what they hope will become a bipartisan bright spot, Democrats in the Senate on Tuesday introduced a sweeping new bill to guarantee and standardize certain rights for people who have experienced sexual assault.

The bill is the latest attempt to fix a system for prosecuting sex crimes that many public figures agree is broken. But where many bills focus on expanding resources for law enforcement, this is the first national proposal to focus so directly on improving legal protections for those who are sexually assaulted.

And the bill has a unique driving force behind it: Amanda Nguyen, a 24-year-old State Department liaison to the White House in training to be an astronaut who helped craft the bill. Nguyen became an activist because of her own enormous struggles with a difficult legal system that nearly destroyed her rape kit.

“Basically, I had to pen my own rights into existence,” she said in a recent interview.

The Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act draws from legal rights that already exist in patchwork form in different states across the county. It requires steps to ensure that people who have been sexually assaulted have access to a trained sexual assault counselor and comprehensive information about victims’ legal options. For individuals who submit to a rape kit, the bill would give them the right to know the location of the evidence, whether the kit has been tested, and the test results.

Read more here.