HARRISBURG, PA -- Leaders from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) held a press conference on January 13 to highlight 13 now-enacted pieces of legislation that will have a positive effect for victims of sexual violence and prevent future abuse.
Related: If you missed our live event, you can watch the full press event here
PCAR Chief Executive Officer Karen Baker, PCAR’s Policy Director Donna Greco and Victim Services Center of Montgomery County, Executive Director Mary Onama led a discussion on these pieces of legislation. They noted that all of PCAR’s legislative priorities for the 2019-20 legislative session are now law. This was accomplished with the bipartisan support of the legislature, partner organizations, and Governor’s office.
“We greatly appreciate the support of our lawmakers in passing these laws,” Baker said. “Their strong stand to put these issues into law shows true leadership and their commitment to making our communities safer through the number of bills they considered and the range of issues they addressed. We thank them for sending a strong message on the importance of ending sexual violence.”
As the executive director for one of Pennsylvania’s 47 sexual assault centers, Mary Onama shared the experiences of providing services to the community while also serving on PCAR’s board of directors and as the public policy committee chair.
“We cannot stress enough that future harm from sexual violence will be prevented by the laws we are talking about today,” Onama said. “ The support that victims need today by closing loopholes in existing laws or creating new laws. These laws show victims that they have been heard by our elected officials, they are believed and definitive action has been taken to help them heal.”
PCAR’s policy director, Donna Greco highlighted several key accomplishments including criminalizing sexual extortion and supporting the parental rights of victims—a full list of the legislative accomplishments accompanies this release.
“These bills were possible because of the widespread, bipartisan support among the legislature, partner organizations, and Governor’s Office. ” Greco said. “While working with lawmakers in advancing these bills, we were grateful for the courageous voices of survivors and the network of rape crisis centers. Their expertise and experiences were instrumental in making sure the legislation was responsive to the needs of people on the ground, in local communities. We look forward to continued partnership with the legislature and Governor’s office as we continue to ensure victims have a range of options available to them and our communities are safer from sexual violence”
Baker said that the victim advocate community is thankful for the leadership in passing these laws and looks forward to continuing to work with the legislature and Governor Wolf in the coming legislative session.
“We value our partnership with our state lawmakers and know that they share our celebration to making our communities safer,” Baker said. “Unfortunately, we also know that there is more work that needs to be done to end sexual violence. Building on these successes we are confident in that vision becoming closer to being realized.”
She added that PCAR will soon unveil legislative priorities for sexual violence victims in the current legislative session.
We encourage anyone who may need free and confidential help from experienced and caring professionals in your local community to contact a sexual assault center by calling 1-888-772-7227 or visit www.pcar.org.