Torres introduces bill to encourage reporting of sexual assault cases

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Senator Mary Camacho Torres has introduced legislation that would create a Bill of Rights for victims of sexual assault.

According to Senator Camacho Torres’ proposed legislation, victims of sexual violence are more likely than other crimes to be blamed for the crime, assumed to be fabricating the crime, or taken less seriously than their injuries warrant.

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However, research consistently shows false reports of sexual assault occur less than 4% of the time.

According to the University of Guam’s Violence Against Women Prevention Program, which cited a Uniform Crime Report from the FBI, Guam has the second-highest number of rapes per capita in the United States.

Bill 244, Camacho Torres says, aims to adopt a standard bill of rights for victims of sexual assault in Guam. Among said rights, the bill establishes that victims are to be free from any suggestion that they are contributorily negligent or assumed the risk of being assaulted, to the extent consistent under the Organic Act of Guam or the US Constitution.

In an interview with PNC’s Ceejay Piliarca, Camacho Torres further explained the bill’s intent.

According to RAAIN, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in America, Approximately 70% of rape or sexual assault victims experience moderate to severe distress, a larger percentage than any other violent crime. Further statistics show that a person’s likelihood of suicidal or depressive thoughts increases after sexual violence.

Similar to this data – under subsection A of the bill, victims of sexual violence shall be notified of existing medical, counseling, mental health, or other services whether or not the crime is reported to law enforcement. Furthermore, under subsection D, victims shall have the right, when applicable, to access or opt-out of any of the services of Guam’s Sexual Assault Response Team at no cost.

Another critical right under the bill states that victims of sexual violence are to be informed of and assisted in getting anonymously and confidentially tested for AIDS and HIV.

According to Senator Camacho Torres, this is an added layer of protection for individuals.