Vermont bill seeks to further protect victims of sexual violence

Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 3:55 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Lawmakers in Montpelier are pushing to protect victims of sexual violence.

A new bill spearheaded by the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence changes the threshold for consent by stipulating that it can’t be granted under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It also restarts the state’s college campus sexual harm taskforce and increases data collection from law enforcement.

Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas, D-Bradford, a sponsor of H.183, says it’s aimed at protecting survivors of sexual violence and bringing accountability and justice. “Our justice system is set up to consider sexual assault is a stranger in the bushes type of scenario and that’s too bad because men and women I’ve talked to report far too many life-altering experiences that don’t look anything like that,” she said.

Sponsors also point to data from the Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey that found 9% of high school girls said they experienced sexual assault before graduation.

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