Nguyen, who was raped in college back in 2013, worked with New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen to create legislation that would establish consistent rules and procedures for prosecuting sexual assault crimes.
The 27-year-old Asian American was also instrumental in driving attention to the bill by actively campaigning for it in collaboration with Change.org and comedy website “Funny or Die.”
The “Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act” passed unanimously in both chambers of Congress and was signed into law in October 2016 by President Barack Obama. The new law protects, among other rights, the right to have the evidence of a rape kit preserved without charge for the duration of the statute of limitations.
She also founded Rise, a national civil rights nonprofit group that helps make rights for rape survivors consistent across American state and country lines.
According to a press statement issued by Rise, Nguyen was nominated by California representatives Mimi Walters and Zoe Lofgren to celebrate her “unprecedented efforts in bringing equal protection under the law and basic human rights to all survivors of sexual assault, regardless of geography.”
As a victim, Nguyen did not press charges immediately as she felt she would not have the time and resources to participate in a trial that could potentially last for years. After learning from authorities that there was a 15-year statute of limitations for rape in Massachusetts, she decided to put off pressing charges at a later date.
When she had a rape kit performed, she discovered that failure to report the crime to law enforcement within six months would result in the dismissal of her rape kit unless an extension request was filed. There were also official instructions given to her on how to file for such an extension.
Thanks to the bill that she helped pass, victims of federal sexual assault cases now have the right to be notified 60 days before their rape kit is destroyed and the right to access their medical information. They will also get a piece of paper that tells them what their rights are in the state where their rape occurred.
Nguyen recently testified on Capitol Hill Monday with actor Terry Crews to encourage more states to adopt the bill as only 14 states have voted to pass it so far, including New York, Maryland, and Utah.
Rise is also currently urging the United Nations to pass a resolution protecting the rights of all victims of sexual violence around the world.
In recognition of her efforts, Nguyen received a Young Women’s Honors Award by Marie Claire magazine and was named on Foreign Policy magazine’s list of the leading global thinkers in 2016. Last year, she was also featured on Forbes’ 2017 “30 Under 30” Law & Policy list.