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While a student at Harvard University, Amanda Nguyen became a victim of rape, as well as a broken criminal justice system. After undergoing an invasive forensic examination process that took six hours long, she learned that under state law, Massachusetts had the right to destroy the evidence from rape kits every six months, even though the statute of limitations is 15 years.
“I realized that I had a choice. I could accept the injustice or rewrite the law. And so I rewrote it,” says Nguyen.
She founded Rise in 2014, a nonprofit that fights for the civil rights of sexual violence survivors. While at the helm of the organization, she wrote and advocated for the Sexual Assault Survivor Bill of Rights, codifying civil rights for 25 million rape survivors in the United States. The bill outlines the legal rights and helps ensure survivors receive the information they need to navigate the medical and legal systems. It also gives survivors the right to access information about the status of their rape kit.
To date, Rise has helped pass 19 laws in 18 months.
Before running Rise full time, Nguyen had been studying to become an astronaut and worked as the Deputy White House Liaison for U.S. Department of State. But when President Obama signed the Sexual Assault Survivor Bill into law in 2016, she received tweets, letters and emails from millions of survivors around the world who wanted to learn how to pen their own civil rights in their own communities.
“I realized we had a unique opportunity to create a movement.”
“I realized we had a unique opportunity to create a movement,” says Nguyen. “So I made a jump to leave the Obama administration and start scaling up Rise full time.”
The nonprofit CEO says running Rise with a startup mentality helped her mobilize survivors, activists and lawmakers across the country. “One thing that I think is applicable to not only organizing or activism, but to all social entrepreneurs is to have relentless, systematic organization,” she says. She adds that prioritizing team meetings, budgets and key performance indicators were just as important as the vigorous social campaigning.
The nonprofit’s new goal is to get the Sexual Assault Survivor Bill of Rights passed in all 50 states and to continue going global. According to Rise, 35% of women on earth – 1.30 billion people – are sexual violence survivors.
“I could accept the injustice or rewrite the law. And so I rewrote it.”
March 8, 2019 at 09:12AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs