Zonta USA Advocacy Action Center

Zonta International is a global organization of individuals dedicated to empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy. The Zonta USA Advocacy Action Center is a tool for our members in the United States and other individuals who share our commitment to gender equality to take action to improve the lives of women and girls. With your help, we can make a difference. In addition to the actions below, click here to support our joint efforts with UNICEF USA to end child marriage in the United States.

Help sexual assault survivors seeking care and justice
The United States currently has no federal standards for sexual assault survivor examination and care. The first step for reporting a sexual assault is to submit a rape kit. But survivors who decide to do so can be treated completely differently depending on which city and state they are in.

DNA is critical if a sexual assault survivor wants to identify their perpetrator and hold them accountable. This evidence can only be collected by a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE), who is trained in best practices for collecting samples with DNA evidence. When rape kits are administered by nurses without this training, it can lead to rape kits that contain no DNA samples. 

However, in many communities, these professionals often do not exist because of a lack of funding for the training—leading to survivors being passed from hospital to hospital in search of a SANE practitioner. Or in some cases, they may be subjected to a rape kit by someone who is not trained, resulting in no DNA being collected. 

The Survivors’ Access to Supportive Care Act (SASCA) establishes a series of programs and requirements to address the adequacy of access to sexual assault examinations. Specifically, the bill (S. 926 and H.R. 2145) would:

  • Strengthen the sexual assault examiner workforce by evaluating state-level needs.
  • Develop and test national standards of care for survivors of sexual assault.
  • Increase understanding of and access to sexual assault care nationwide.
  • Expand access to sexual assault forensic examinations (SAFE) and SANE services.
  • Provide training grants to increase access for rural and tribal communities.
  • Require higher education institutions to make students aware of SAFE/SANE services on campus.
  • Create a new resource center to provide technical assistance to states and hospitals in providing care to survivors.

Senator Patty Murray [D-WA] first introduced SASCA after hearing Seattle resident Leah Griffin’s personal story in 2015 about surviving a sexual assault and struggling to get access to the health care services she needed in order to seek justice. Joined by Senator Lisa Murkowski [R-AK], Murray reintroduced the bipartisan legislation in the Senate on March 23, 2021. On the same day, Representative Pramila Jayapal [D-WA] introduced a corresponding bipartisan bill in the House. Please use our pre-drafted letters to urge your senators and representative to co-sponsor and support S. 926 and H.R. 2145. If they have already sponsored or co-sponsored the bill, you can send a message of thanks.

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