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Protection for the Privacy of Rape Victims Statement on Signing H.R. 4727 Into Law.

October 30, 1978

I am pleased to sign H.R. 4727, an important change in the rules of evidence to protect the rights of victims of rape.

This bill provides a model for State and local revision of criminal and case law. It is designed to end the public degradation of rape victims and, by protecting victims from humiliation, to encourage the reporting of rape.

There is no question that victims of rape and other sex crimes, predominately women, are reluctant to report these crimes. Too often rape trials have been as humiliating as the sexual assault itself. By restricting testimony on the victim's prior sexual behavior to that genuinely relevant to the defense, the rape victims act will prevent a defendant from making the victim's private life the issue in the trial.

The thousands of women who met last year in Houston for International Women's Year urged Federal, State, and local governments to provide this basic protection for rape victims. I am pleased that the Federal Government is serving as a model in this regard, and I urge all criminal jurisdictions to follow the Federal example in providing this essential protection for women. I congratulate Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman for her sponsorship of this legislation and her leadership in this area.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 4727 is Public Law 95-540, approved October 28.

Jimmy Carter, Protection for the Privacy of Rape Victims Statement on Signing H.R. 4727 Into Law. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243718

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