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October 4, 2011 > Victims of sexual assault to receive treatment, medical exams

Victims of sexual assault to receive treatment, medical exams

Submitted By Teala Schaff

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation, by Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett (D-San Leandro), guaranteeing victims of sexual assault are not denied forensic medical exams or treatment.

"This new law gives victims access to the services and medical assistance they need after suffering a sexual assault, regardless of their circumstances or income level," Corbett said. "I feel strongly that all sexual assault victims deserve this assistance. The measure has the added benefit of keeping California aligned with federal law and therefore eligible for precious federal funding."

Senate Bill 534, the Violence Against Women Act, brings California into compliance with federal law by certifying that sexual assault victims receive free medical exams. In doing so, the bill makes the state eligible for more than $12M in annual federal funding for the exams.

In many parts of California, the only way a victim can receive a forensic medical exam without paying for it is if a law enforcement agency expressly requests or authorizes the exam. Victims unable to pay, or who refuse to cooperate with law enforcement agencies, may not receive any medical attention.

The legislation has strong bipartisan support and did not receive a single "no" vote. The law takes effect January 1, 2012.

Sexual assault is a widespread problem afflicting millions throughout California and the nation. According to a recent U.S. Department of Justice national survey, 21 million Americans have experienced a sexual assault.

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