“Mandatory reporting is harmful and forcing survivors to engage with the criminal legal system only further restricts power and choice from survivors after experiencing a sexual assault, and will have a chilling and silencing effect on reporting,” cautioned VALOR’s Deputy Director, David S. Lee.
Today, VALOR and leading sexual assault advocates from Santa Clara County showed up in mass to voice opposition to the proposed ordinance to mandate rideshare and taxi companies to automatically, and without expressed consent of survivors, share reported sexual assault information with local law enforcement. Over 20 people, including representatives of Santa Clara County rape crisis centers YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley and Community Solutions, spoke passionately at the hearing.
Our collective power was undeniable. Together, we stopped this proposal from being enacted and made our voices heard: the decision about what happens to a survivor’s report should rest with the survivor alone. 63 California organizations signed VALOR’s letter opposing this ordinance.
Councilwoman Arenas echoed similar sentiments stating, “[These organizations] came out because they genuinely believe in what they say they’ve learned through experiences what it is that works for survivors.” Law enforcement and city officials should be asking community-based advocates what the city can be doing to prevent violence, not to be forcing survivors to engage with the criminal legal system.
As Tori VandeLinde, Program Manager at VALOR’s national partnership RALIANCE stated, “Private businesses have a responsibility to uphold the dignity, privacy, and autonomy of survivors and their choice through their entire reporting process.” VALOR and other community-based organizations look forward to continuing conversations on how we can prioritize survivors’ needs and autonomy, and work towards safer communities at the local, state, and national level.
Justice, healing, and repair come in many forms. Survivors demand and deserve power and choice always, and our systems should not create barriers to that. Today, the San Jose City Council honored the dignity and power of survivors and community-based organizations. Thank you to the organizations and individuals who continue to use their voice to advocate for survivors!
Listen to David’s comment here.
Watch the full Rules Committee meeting and additional public comments here.