“This bill ensures that survivors of sexual violence will have access to forensic medical examinations without the requirement of participation in the criminal justice system,” said CALCASA’s Executive Director Sandra Henriquez. “Survivors will not be revictimized by denied authorization for medical examinations.”
Formerly, a survivor’s ability to receive a free medical exam was, at times, contingent upon participation with the criminal justice system. Law enforcement was tasked with authorizing medical services. If survivors did not cooperate with law enforcement — and were unable to pay for services — they may not receive a forensic exam. In 2010, federal funds to California were placed on hold as the state was found to be out of compliance with federal law, which stipulates that sexual assault victims receive free medical examinations.
California’s rape crisis centers serve more than 30,000 survivors of sexual assault and trafficking. SB 534 makes California eligible for more than $12 million in annual federal funding for the exams. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2012.