RAINN, Speakers Bureau Members, and ECPAT Attend and Advocate at Congressional Day of Action

When and where did Congressional Day of Action take place?

On Wednesday, May 10, 2023, survivors of sexual violence from RAINN’s Speakers Bureau, ECPAT and ECPAT-USA Survivors’ Council, RAINN employees, and volunteers attended Congressional Day of action at Capitol Hill. Speakers Bureau members came from Arkansas, California, Ohio, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, DC. Collectively RAINN’s Speakers Bureau members traveled 20,000 miles to attend.

Who did RAINN and ECPAT meet with?

Participants met with Congressional Staff which included Legislative Correspondents, Legislative Assistants, Chiefs of Staff, and members from the House of Representatives and the Senate.

What bills did survivors ask Congressional staff to support?

Survivors asked Congressional staff to support the Child Rescue Act, Project Safe Childhood Modernization & Reauthorization Act, the EARN It/End It Act, SHIELD Act, the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, and the Debbie Smith Act, bills that will tackle the epidemic of child sexual abuse and exploitation from the angles of criminal justice and technology accountability. In addition, participants asked for the support of the Debbie Smith Act and Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, which will help end the rape kit backlog and improve capacity to investigate and prosecute sexual assault cases.

What would the bills do?

Child Rescue Act Solution: Amid the high volume of CSAM leads, there are thousands of unidentified child victims. The Child Rescue Act will form a working group to study victim-centered policing strategies and resources needed in order to rescue children in the United States who are victims of CSAM or child sexual abuse.

Project Safe Childhood Modernization & Reauthorization Act Solution: This bill will create criteria, targeting plans and best practices to help law enforcement identify CSAM offenders who are also actively sexually abusing children. It will also fund training for prosecutors and law enforcement to use investigative technology that identifies CSAM offenders, and fund additional federal prosecutors to focus on prosecuting CSAM cases.

EARN IT Act/END Act Solution: Allow CSAM survivors to sue social media and technology companies that knowingly facilitate or profit from the distribution of CSAM on their platform. The EARN IT Act will do this along with updating federal statutes to use the term child sexual abuse materials instead of child pornography. The term child pornography fails to describe the true nature of the videos and images and undermines the seriousness of the abuse children in these materials go through.

The bill will also extend the timeframe electronic service providers are required to preserve the contents of the reports they send to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) from 90 days to one year. This change will aid law enforcement, who are inundated with these reports, by providing more time to properly review the contents of the report and address these cases.

Debbie Smith Act Solution: Debbie Smith DNA Backlog grants provide funding to states to increase the capacity of state and local labs to process DNA evidence, to meet the demand for testing and eliminate rapekit testing backlogs.

The Sexual Assault Kit (SAKI) solution: The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative provides grants to law enforcement agencies to investigate cold case sexual assaults where kit was not previously tested to comprehensively approach these cases in a way that’s trauma-informed and victim-centered. Funds are used to inventory backlogged kits, test kits, hire victim advocates, cold case investigators and prosecutors, apply new investigative strategies, and provide training. SAKIgrantees are assisted by an Advisory Board of subject matter experts to ensure the adoption of best practices.

SHIELD Act solution: This bill will aid survivors pursuing justice for non-consensual intimate image sharing and will help rescue children suffering from sexual exploitation and abuse.

What does it mean when a member of Congress sponsors or co-sponsors legislation?

When a member of Congress is a sponsor on a bill that means that he or she is leading the efforts to advance the bill. This also means that the member introduced the bill in their respective chamber (House or Senate). A co-sponsor is a member that publicly supports the bill. A member can be an original co-sponsor which means that they publicly supported this bill at the time the bill was introduced in Congress.

What happened after advocating on the Hill?

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the SHIELD Act and the Project Safe Childhood Act. These bills will aid survivors pursuing justice for non consensual intimate image sharing and will help rescue children suffering from sexual exploitation and abuse.

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