OLYMPIA — An omnibus bill to promote a victim-centered, trauma-informed response to sexual assault in Washington’s legal system passed the Senate today unanimously.

SB 5937 streamlines eligibility for crime victim benefits, covers some of victims’ costs for forensic examinations, expands protections to more victims, improves state and local teams to respond to sexual assault, and ensures that children age 13 and up can consent to forensic sexual examinations and examinations for sexually transmitted infections.

“We used to hear a lot about sexual assaults on college campuses, but now, tragically, we also hear more about sexual assaults in middle and high schools” said Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee and sponsor of the bill. “This legislation will help support survivors and enable us to hold perpetrators accountable.”

SB 5937 draws on the recommendations of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Best Practices Advisory Group as well as the experiences of survivors and the knowledge of experts in the field.

“This legislation represents a continual transformation of the legal response to sexual assault in our state, so that we can build a truly victim-centered, trauma-informed system,” said Dhingra.

One survivor wrote of the bill: “I am pleasantly surprised how comprehensive it is, from improving access to victim compensation fund to participating in person or remotely to criminal trials, removing statute of limitation for first responder rapes to recognizing use of rape drug as force, among other things. Of many ‘victim rights’ legislations to reform criminal legal system that I have seen, this is the most thorough and trauma informed.”

The bill now moves to the House for consideration.