HI Governor Signs Flurry of Women’s Health Bills

     HONOLULU (CN) — Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed seven different women’s health initiatives into law on Tuesday at an afternoon ceremony in Elizabeth Fuller Hall at the Laniakea YWCA .
     Introduced by the Hawaii Women’s Legislative Caucus, a bipartisan legislative group that presents bills each session, this year’s package included a law making sex trafficking a class A felony, and a law requiring the University of Hawaii system to train employees and students on sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic and dating violence and stalking policies.
     While Hawaii trailed the other 49 states in banning sex trafficking, HB 2772 puts Hawaii somewhat ahead of the curve by requiring its university systems to address violence against college women.
     Beyond mere Title IX compliance, which critics say does little to enforce sexual assault statutes, the Hawaii law requires schools in the University of Hawaii system to proactively discuss sexual assault on campus. The law also designates a confidential student advocate and advises victims in writing or their right to file a police report, in furtherance of the federal Jeanne Clery Act.
     A provision requiring the university to report all cases of sexual assault and one prohibiting romantic relationships between faculty and students were struck from the final bill.
     The law comes in the wake of highly publicized sexual assault cases in the national media and statistics compiled by the National Criminal Justice Center that 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted while in college, and that more than 90 percent of the victims do not report the assault.
     Ige also signed a bill requiring state agencies to inventory rape evidence kits, bills requiring all insurers operating in Hawaii to cover tests for STDs as well as contraception, and a bill appropriating funds for the Department of Health to conduct reviews of childhood deaths and the deaths of mothers during pregnancy, labor and the year following the birth of a child.

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