Sign the Letter
To Whom It May Concern
The majority of victims of sexual violence are disproportionately marginalized at intersections of race, class and gender and face systemic oppression. According to RAINN - 2 out of 3 survivors of sexual violence do not report their experience due to victim-blaming and pitifully low rates of prosecution and conviction. This culture of silence has been largely exposed in this moment of #MeToo. Because our criminal justice system was not created with these considerations, it functions as a shield predators for from accountability and systematically denies victims justice.
As we work to reduce social silencing mechanisms, we must also address the ways our legal system dissolves the potential for justice for sexual assault survivors.
Statutes of limitation - which still exist in 32 states - assign arbitrary time limits for survivors to break through those silencing mechanisms to report their crimes, so many never do. Reporting timelines in each state vary from 1 to 30 years and some states never implemented a statute of limitation at all. The inconsistency and irregularity of these laws creates additional barriers for victims who will then be forced to re-experience their trauma as they are questioned throughout the legal process.
Statutes of limitation on rape and sexual assault are a predator’s best friend and a victim’s worst nightmare.
The historic trial of Bill Cosby for his acts of sexual violence will begin its second act on April 2nd. While more than 60 women have spoken out against, Cosby will only face trial for the criminal violence he committed against a single woman. The law that exists preventing many survivors from prosecuting Cosby for the crimes perpetrated against them is a law that exists in the majority of US states. At a time when the highest office in our country is occupied by a known sexual predator it is incumbent upon us all to take action to show our country’s most vulnerable that we stand with them.
In September 2016, California became the 20th state to abolish the timeline for reporting rape and sexual assault. The bill - which does not change the burden of evidence required to press charges - passed the Senate and Assembly unanimously before being signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. Senator Connie Leyva, who filed the bill, said that it "shows victims and survivors that California stands behind them, that we see rape as a serious crime, that victims can come forward and that justice now has no time limit.”
If there is one thing we could do to push back against the rape culture further enabled by the current White House administration, it would be to ensure that the potential for justice is accessible in every US state. Abolish the statute of limitations on rape and sexual assault in your state, and ensure that every survivor has a chance at justice in our legal system.
Chelsea Byers; Executive Director, Campaign to Abolish Statutes of Limitation
ADD YOUR NAME/ORGANIZATION HERE