Protecting Rape Victims
A bill passed in the Missouri Senate could change a lot of the ways sexual assault is handled on the local level.
Asking for help after a rape isn't easy.
"A lot of the girls are scared," sexual assault nurse Cindy Allen said. "They are not sure what they want to do. They are in shock a lot of the time. They haven't decided weather they really want to press charges."
A new bill may help women make that choice with a little more support.
"The bill itself has many provisions that are designed to really address the needs for sexual assault victims throughout the state of Missouri. From the very first instance of reporting throughout the entire criminal justice process," women's advocate Colleen Coble said.
The bill would make sure convicted rapists can't find where their victims live and also prevent investigators from using polygraph tests on victims.
"Its common practice in some of the other counties that when a victim comes in to make a police report about an assault they're asked to give a polygraph test," Kelly Lucero, from the Shelter, said.
The proposed law would also give victims the option of storing forensic evidence while they decide to press charges.
In Columbia, women who are victims of rape can go to the University Hospital or the student health center to do these forensic tests. They're free at University Hospital, but they're not free all over the state and this bill hopes to change that.
The bill has to pass in the Missouri House before it can be signed into law.
Experts say 1 out of every 10 women raped actually report the incident. And in 2005, nearly 1,500 women in Missouri reported being raped.
Senator Michael Gibbons sponsored the bill.
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