Amanda Nguyen
Amanda Nguyen: Civil Rights Astronaut, 2022 TIME Woman of the Year, and 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee

In 2013, after interning for NASA during her last semester at Harvard University, Amanda Nguyen was raped.

Although she took immediate action against the perpetrator by reporting the gruesome crime, lawyers warned Nguyen that it could take multiple years for her case to get taken to court.

Nguyen said: "There's a very real economic cost to violence against women. There are incredible sacrifices that survivors have to make if they want to pursue justice. I don't think that is right."

Speaking of the "broken" criminal justice system for rape survivors in the US, Nguyen said that she refused to choose between seeking justice or continuing her career as a trainee astronaut.

"No one should have to choose between justice and their career," she added.

Instead, Nguyen prioritised speaking out against the US legal system and addressing the preservation of critical evidence from rape cases.

@amandangocnguyenMy story

♬ original sound - Amanda Nguyen

According to official figures published by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), more than 15 per cent of women in the US have been victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.

RAINN, the US's largest anti-sexual violence organisation, also reports that every 68 seconds, an American national is subject to sexual assault. Every nine minutes, the victim is a child

In a bid to change the outcome of rape cases, in 2014, Nguyen founded Rise, a non-profit organisation that advocates for the legal protection of sexual assault survivors.

Nguyen saw her first legal success in 2016 when the Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights was signed into law and implemented by former President Barack Obama.

In a letter to the Minnesota House of Representatives, Nguyen urged the chair and committee members to vote in favour of her draft law. Nguyen explained that she had been "working with members of Congress to draft a Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights."

Since then, working with leaders from the #MeToo, #StopAsianHate, Women's March and March for Our Lives, Rise has passed more than 83 laws that set out to protect sexual assault survivors in the US.

@amandangocnguyenWe make it through

♬ original sound - Amanda Nguyen

"I could accept the injustice or re-write the law, so I re-wrote it," Nguyen said, going on to recall: "Fighting for the civil rights of rape survivors started from a very personal place. I remember walking out of the hospital and feeling so alone. People tell survivors to go to the criminal justice system to get help, but when I went to try to get help, I was met with a legal labyrinth."

For her "tireless activism" and contributions to state development, in 2019, Nguyen was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and awarded the 24th Heinz Award in Public Policy.

In 2022, Nguyen was named one of the Time Women of the Year.

"I think hope is a renewable resource," the sexual rights activist added. "When one person in one corner of the world is able to fight for their rights, prompt the passing of a law and get it codified, it inspires other people to do the same. We have the agency to create the world that we want. No one is powerless when we come together, and no one is invisible when we demand to be seen. So, demand to be seen."

The activist has since completed her astronaut training and will make history when she becomes the first Vietnamese woman to go to space this year. Nguyen is set to fly on the upcoming Blue Origin launch on the New Shepard rocket.