Congress Passes Justice for All Act; Heads to the President’s Desk for Signature
RAINN | Public Policy | Dec 01, 2016
In a political climate defined by party divisions, there was a bipartisan win for survivors of sexual violence this Thursday, with the passage of the Justice for All Act Reauthorization Act of 2016. The Act will expand resources to prevent and respond to crimes of sexual violence.
“Congress is hurriedly working to finish top priorities as part of the year-end push. It speaks volumes about the bipartisan nature of Congress’ commitment to address sexual violence that the Justice for All Act is now making its way to the president’s desk," said Rebecca O'Connor, RAINN's vice president of public policy. “It’s also a testament to the efforts of hundreds of advocates from across the country who recognize, like RAINN, the good that this will do for so many.”
Justice for All, originally signed into law in 2004, enhances protections for victims of sexual assault and other violent crimes, establishes safeguards to prevent wrongful convictions, and increases the national commitment to forensic technology to help fight crime.
Stakeholders talk barriers, solutions at campus sexual assault roundtable in Concord
By ELLA NILSEN | Monitor staff | Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Advocates talked about the complex nature of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits any school that receives federal money from discriminating on the basis of sex.
While the federal law is very important, it also can create some barriers to getting sexual assault victims the kind of support they need, said Amy Culp, director of the University of New Hampshire’s nationally recognized Sexual Harassment & Rape Prevention Program, also known as SHARPP.
Culp said that she’s seen school officials so swept up in making sure they are following the letter of the law and avoiding the risk of fines that it feels at times like an interrogation of the victim, rather than a conversation about the incident that takes place in a safe space.
“It’s less about the survivor and what the survivor needs,” added Lisa Ciccotelli, direct services coordinator at SHARPP. “They still want to move on with their lives, they still want to go to class, they still want to go to their athletics, they still want a social life.”
Disappointed, Not Surprised: Stanford and American Rape Culture
June 7, 2016 | "The Takeaway" hosted by John Hockenberry, produced by Public Radio International, WGBH and WNYC.
In March, a jury found 20-year-old Brock Turner guilty on three felony counts for raping an unconscious woman at Stanford University in early 2015, where he was a student at the time. The crime he was convicted of carried a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison, and the prosecution asked for six. But late last week, Turner was sentenced to just six months in jail. That light ruling was handed down by Judge Aaron Persky of the Santa Clara County Superior Court.
Sofie Karasek is director of education for End Rape on Campus, an advocacy group she helped found in 2013. She is also a survivor of sexual assault herself, and she says she was infuriated — but not surprised — when she heard the sentence.
Lynn Hecht Schafran, vice president at Legal Momentum and director for the National Judicial Education Program, has been studying and educating judges on how to approach sexual assault cases for decades. She says many jurists don't understand the gravity of the situation.
Presidential Proclamation - National Sexual Assault Awareness Month
The White House |Office of the Press Secretary | For Immediate Release|March 31, 2016
At our country's core is a basic belief in the inherent dignity of every person. Too many women and men of all ages suffer the outrage that is sexual assault, and too often, this crime is not condemned as loudly as it should be. Together, we must stand up and speak out to change the culture that questions the actions of victims, rather than those of their attackers. As their relatives, friends, neighbors, and fellow Americans, it's on us to support victims and survivors by providing them with the care they need, bringing perpetrators to justice, and ensuring our institutions are held responsible and do not look the other way. This month, we reaffirm our commitment to shift the attitudes that allow sexual assault to go unanswered and unpunished, and we redouble our efforts to prevent this human rights violation from happening in the first place.
Reminder: Sexual Violence Against Women Is More Important Than Sports
03/18/2016: Jenavieve Hatch, Editorial Fellow, The Huffington Post
A sports team’s performance should not matter more than a survivor’s trauma.
Last month, the captain of the Yale men’s basketball team, Jack Montague, was expelled from the university following accusations of sexual assault from 2014. Judging from the media coverage of the incident, the real tragedy isn’t that a young man may have raped a young woman, or even that Yale may have mishandled the case — it’s that Montague’s absence might upset upset some March Madness brackets.
Students Help Draft Sexual Assault Legislation
By Jalin P. Cunningham, CRIMSON STAFF WRITER January 19, 2016
A group of Harvard students helped draft legislation, which, if passed by the Massachusetts state legislature, would expand civil protections and counseling to victims of sexual assault.
The 14-page bill specifically calls on the state to provide sexual assault victims a number of resources: tracking information for rape kits to prevent their misplacement or destruction; specialized counselors for victims of sexual assault; and clear information on a victim's rights to pursue legal action.
Sexual Assault Survivors Are Asking: Campus or Courtroom?
Dec 14, 2015 | www.takepart.com, Rebecca McCray is a staff writer covering social justice. A former Fulbright scholar, she is based in New York.
A debate about whether victims and the accused are better served by schools' disciplinary procedures or by the criminal justice system arises.
When Stanford University released its campus climate survey in October, the school reported that an average of 1.9 percent of students had been sexually assaulted on campus during their time there. Amid numerous high-profile sexual violence cases on college campuses across the country in the past few years, Stanford’s numbers look good at first glance—too good, and too low, according to student activists.
“The report skewed and obscured the numbers to hide the prevalence of sexual assault on campus,” Tessa Ormenyi, an activist and a 2014 Stanford graduate, told TakePart. Because male students experience sexual violence at a much lower rate than do women, by averaging the responses from all students, the survey dragged down and obfuscated the real rate of sexual violence that female students experience, Ormenyi says.
TRT Editor | Oct 08, 2015 |
BOSTON, Mass.—As the nation becomes more educated of the epidemic of sexual assaults happening on college campuses, LGBTQ students (especially students of color) facing the same challenges continue to be ignored or overlooked, according to recent studies.
“From a lens of intersectionality, when we add understandable barriers that LGBT students might face, such as coming out, fitting in across multiple communities, minority stress, access to supportive social norms, and how systems have historically responded to LGBT survivors, students living within these communities often experience compounded concerns surrounding vulnerability to predatory violence,” said Assistant Director of Boston College Women’s Center, Rachel DiBella. “Under certain circumstances, some LGBT students might be even more reluctant to report their assault when their perpetrator identifies within the community, due to concerns of further stigmatizing the community.”
Director of Sexual Harassment & Rape Prevention Program (SHARPP) at University of New Hampshire, Amy Culp, agrees with DiBella.
“It may be that they have yet to identify as a member of the LGBT community so they do not want police, student administration, etc., to know,” she said. “As in a majority of abusive relationships, the victim/survivor knows the abuser. LGBT student populations are often smaller in size and the chances that the victim/survivor knows the perpetrator increases. This may cause a social division within a group, which is hard for a survivor to handle.”
Amid confusion over sexual consent, advocates calling for increase in sex education
By ELLA NILSEN, Monitor staff | Saturday, September 5, 2015
When incoming freshmen arrive at the University of New Hampshire, Maggie Wells, who works at the university’s Sexual Health and Rape Prevention Program, has a few questions for them.
“What is sexual consent?” “Can a person consent to sexual activity if they’ve had too much to drink?”
Often, the students are stumped.
“When you ask the question of what consent is, they fumble all over it, they don’t have a concise answer,” she said. “This might be the first time they’re being asked about sexual consent.”
SHARPP wins 2 state awards
SHARPP was recently awarded the 2015 Presidents’ Good Steward Award and the 2015 Presidents’ Leadership Award from the Campus Compact for New Hampshire consortium.
Presidents’ Good Steward Award: SHARPP Program
For a member of the faculty, administration or staff member who has contributed his or her professional expertise in service to the wider community and who has significantly advanced public service on their campus.
Presidents’ Leadership Award: SHARPP Advocates
For an individual student or student organization that has made outstanding contributions to community service, service learning, and/or civic engagement efforts on their campus. This award is for a student or student organization that has made service an integral part of their college experience as evidenced through their contribution to the community.
Founded in 1997, Campus Compact for New Hampshire is a statewide consortium of college and university presidents and private sector partners who are united in their commitment to the civic purposes of higher education. Our mission is to be a catalyst to integrate community service and civic responsibility throughout the academic and student life goals of its member institutions.
Bill improves confidentiality for sexual violence victims
By Max Sullivan | Posted Mar. 8, 2015 at 2:00 AM
Senators want to expand public school health education to require high schoolers to learn about sexual assault.
WASHINGTON -- As universities and colleges face heightened scrutiny over their handling of campus rape, two Democratic senators want to expand public school health education to require high schoolers to learn about sexual assault.
The Teach Safe Relationships Act of 2015, introduced on Tuesday by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), would require that health education in public secondary schools include learning on "safe relationship behavior" aimed at preventing sexual assault, domestic violence and dating violence. Under current federal law, health and sex education classes needn't include sexual assault prevention.
Domestic violence as prevalent for college students as sexual assault
On Black Friday, Nadia Ezaldein, a University of Chicago student, was working at a Chicago Nordstrom when her ex-boyfriend entered the store, found her in the accessories department, and shot her to death. It was her 22nd birthday.
A day earlier, on Thanksgiving, Shannon Jones, a student at Cornell University, was allegedly strangled to death by her boyfriend during an argument. Police described the murder as a “domestic incident.”
University of Virginia Officials Vow to Combat Campus Rape Problem
N.H. lawmaker files ‘yes means yes’ sexual assault bill
By KATHLEEN RONAYNE, Associated Press Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Rep. Renny Cushing, a Hampton Democrat, has filed a draft of a bill, modeling his idea off a law recently signed in California. Cushing wants to require schools to adopt sex assault policies that center on affirmative consent, meaning both parties must verbally agree to engage in sexual behavior. Colleges and universities that don’t adopt such policies would lose their state aid or, for private colleges, property tax exemptions.
Sexual assault on college campuses has garnered national attention as students and the federal government demand stricter policies and stronger enforcement. Research has shown one in five women will be sexually assaulted in college, but only about 12 percent of those assaults are reported to the police. In New Hampshire, Dartmouth College is under federal investigation for its handling of sexual assault. The University of New Hampshire has been nationally recognized for its sexual assault prevention policies that have focused on affirmative consent for years.
Campus Sexual Assault Law Now Includes Language On Same-Sex Violence
Congresswoman Kuster invites SHARPP Director to Roundtable Session
Legislation increases pressure on colleges to prevent, react to sexual assault
By ANN MARIE JAKUBOWSKI, Monitor staff, Monday, August 4, 2014
"In an April report from a White House task force, the University of New Hampshire was one of three schools highlighted as a successful model for combating sexual assault. Amy Culp, director of UNH’s Sexual Harassment And Rape Prevention Program, said sexual assault is often approached as a two-pronged issue. On one hand, schools must prevent assaults from happening before the fact and on the other, they need to provide an array of direct services to victims after it has occurred."
White House to Press Colleges to Do More to Combat Rape
Former Senate Rivals Team Up To Combat Campus Sexual Assault
Solutions to End the Rape Kit Backlog
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 Contact: Melissa Schwartz: 212.475.2026, firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW YORK – President Obama’s FY15 budget provides communities with the most significant federal support yet to aid their efforts to address their rape kit backlogs, the Joyful Heart Foundation noted today in support of a new federal initiative.
In his FY15 budget proposal, President Obama has—for the first time—allocated $35 million in dedicated funding to end the nationwide rape kit backlog at local law enforcement agencies. This new grant, housed within the Department of Justice, will provide local communities resources to: test backlogged kits in their police storage facilities; create multi-disciplinary teams to investigate and prosecute cases connected to the backlog; and address the need for victim notification and re-engagement with the criminal justice system.
Obama Targets College Sexual Assault Epidemic
Rape victim gets justice 11 years after assault
By Nick Kenney | Posted: Dec 11, 2013 7:11 PM EST Updated: Dec 11, 2013 7:11 PM EST
A rape kit done more than a decade ago helped to find justice for one victim in Shelby County. That victim is now encouraging others to pursue justice. Even though she had to wait more than 10 years for her rapist to be convicted, the victim hopes others might see her story and be inspired to stay strong.
Because she is a rape victim, her identity will not be revealed. For the purpose of sharing her story, we will refer to her as LaShay.
Some brass back Kirsten Gillibrand's sexual-assault bill
By DARREN SAMUELSOHN | 9/23/13 5:00 AM EDT
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has garnered the support of three retired generals in her bid to overhaul how the Pentagon prosecutes sexual assault and other major criminal cases.
The New York Democrat is still a long way from getting the backing of the Defense Department itself. But recent letters sent to the senator and obtained by POLITICO show she’s not without some backing from the brass. The new supporters are retired Brig. Gen. David McGinnis, a former Obama administration Pentagon appointee; retired Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, the first woman to be a three-star Army general; and retired Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, who was the Army’s highest-ranking psychiatrist.
5 Reasons Everyone's Talking About Malala Yousafzai's New Book
The memoir, I Am Malala, which will be published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson in the UK and the Commonwealth and by Little, Brown in the rest of the world, is this young girl’s story of how she almost lost her life fighting for education equality last year when she was shot in the head by Taliban combatants.
Seven governments adopt statement on violence against women and girls at 66th World Health Assembly
On 21 May, around 200 World Health Assembly participants joined an early-morning side event on “Violence against women: health impacts and role of the health sector”. The event was organized by Belgium, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, the USA, and Zambia, with support from WHO. A concluding statement, read on behalf of the panellists by Ms Kathleen Sebelius, US Secretary of Health and Human Services, affirmed their collective commitment to addressing interpersonal violence through further strengthening WHO's capacity to address this important health issue, particularly for women and girls, and to propose an agenda item for the 67th World Health Assembly.
New Standards Issued for Sexual Assault Exams
April 30, 2013— In April, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced the release of the National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations, designed to prescribe the methods by which evidence should be collected and specify what equipment should be available for the examination.
Federal court rules emergency contraceptives needs to be sold over the counter
Posted by Sarah Kliff and Brady Dennis on April 5, 2013
A federal district court overturned Friday the Obama administration’s ban against women under 17 purchasing over-the-counter emergency contraception without a prescription.
Describing the restriction as “a strong showing of bad faith and improper political influence” Judge Edward Korman of the District Court of Eastern New York directed the Food and Drug Administration to lift it within 30 days.
“The decisions of the Secretary with respect to Plan B One-Step…were arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable,” Judge Korman wrote, directing the FDA to “Make levonorgestrel-based emergency contraceptives available without a prescription and without point-of-sale or age restrictions within thirty days.”
College Sexual Assault Victim Advocates Hail VAWA Passage
by Tyler Kingkade on 03/01/2013
Federal legislation that will reform how colleges treat sexual violence and stalking on campus is on its way to President Barack Obama's desk after the House passed the Violence Against Women Act on Thursday.
The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, included in the Senate version of VAWA, is the most significant legislation to address college rape in 20 years. The law will require colleges to include reports of dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in their annual crime statistics. Schools also will have to provide awareness programs for new students and employees, and must offer students or employees who are victims of abuse a change in housing or work environment.
Violence Against Women Act reintroduced in 2013
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) last night with additional bipartisan co-sponsors including California’s Diane Feinstein. The legislation, Senate Bill 47, is almost identical to the bill that passed the Senate last year, including the same strong provisions to address sexual assault.
A number of minor changes were included in the bill (S.47):
Presidential Proclamation -- National Stalking Awareness Month, 2013
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 01/02/13
Each year, millions of Americans face the fear, isolation, and danger of being victims of stalking. At some point in their lives, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men will be stalked, and many of these crimes will go unreported and unprosecuted. During National Stalking Awareness Month, we rededicate ourselves to supporting victims of stalking and sharpen our resolve to bring perpetrators to justice.
Senate Approves Leahy-Backed Bill To Reduce Rape Kit Backlog
WASHINGTON (Monday, December 31, 2012) – U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Monday hailed the Senate’s passage late Sunday of legislation to improve the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Reduction Program, a successful grant initiative aimed at reducing the backlog of untested rape kits throughout the country.
There's only one VAWA for a changing nation
Survivors, not victims, at Amherst College
Duke Eliminates Statue of Limitations on Student Sexual Misconduct
The Duke Chronicle - By Julian Spector, October 7, 2012 – This week, Duke University eliminated the school's statute of limitations (SOL) on student sexual misconduct reporting. Strong protests from students initiated the removal of the previous one-year SOL restriction. Under the new policy, a student now can file a sexual misconduct report up until they graduate.
Reauthorizing VAWA shouldn’t be partisan issue; the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
BY CONGRESSMAN CHARLES F. BASS, September 25, 2012 – As a husband and a father, I believe it is our moral obligation to ensure that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which provides support for the victims of violence and resources to bring their perpetrators to justice, is reauthorized. Before it adjourns, Congress must put partisan differences aside and work together on this incredibly important subject.
One in Three Victims of Teen Dating Violence Has Had More than One Abuser
COLUMBUS, Ohio, 9/18/12 – More than one-third of young adults who reported being victims of dating violence as teenagers had two or more abusive partners, a new study suggests.
The study involved 271 college students who recalled dating violence - including physical, sexual and psychological abuse - from ages 13 to 19.
Overall, nearly two-thirds of both men and women reported some type of abuse during their teenage years, which falls in line with other studies.
Bass Calls for Action on Violence Against Women Act
WASHINGTON, August 15, 2012 – Congressman Charles F. Bass (NH-02) issued the following statement today after calling on House leadership to act on a bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) as soon as Congress returns to Washington in September.
Bass said: “It is time for Congress to resolve any differences that remain and act on what is a bipartisan, bicameral consensus on the need to reauthorize VAWA. Having worked closely throughout this debate with New Hampshire organizations that assist victims of violence, I understand the important role that VAWA programs play in our state. Whether providing resources for our law enforcement, prosecutors, health professionals, or service providers, VAWA is a critical element of our public safety network that helps to hold offenders accountable and keep our communities safe.
“The reauthorization of VAWA must not be subject to partisan posturing. I am committed to working with my colleagues to advance consensus legislation that will protect all victims of violence, including those seeking the assistance at the crisis centers in New Hampshire.”
1in6, Inc. and RAINN Join Forces to Provide a 24/7 SupportLine for Men who were Sexually Abused as Children
Washington, D.C., June 20th — 1in6, Inc. — a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help men who may have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives — has worked with RAINN, the world’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, to provide a 24/7 SupportLine for men, their family and friends who are seeking real-time assistance, information and referrals.
A Warning to Teenagers Before They Start Dating
NYTimes, By JAN HOFFMAN, Published: June 3, 2012, BOISE, Idaho — After studies emerged more than a decade ago showing that the highest rates of physical and sexual assault happen to women ages 16 to 24, programs to prevent abusive relationships have concentrated on high school and college students.
Some initiatives have shown promise, but overall statistics remain largely unchanged: the most recent government report stated that nearly one in 10 high school students said they had been physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Now a diverse group that includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and federal lawmakers is trying to forestall dating violence by addressing even younger students: middle schoolers. The goal is to educate them about relationships before they start dating in earnest, even though research shows that some seventh graders have already experienced physical and emotional harm while dating.
U.S. House passes harmful version of VAWA
May 16, 2012 - Today the U.S. House of Representatives voted 222 to 205 to pass HR 4970, the House version of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence would like to applaud Representative Charles Bass for voting against this dangerous bill. The House's version differs from the bipartisan version of VAWA recently passed in the Senate, which was co-sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte. HR 4970 includes dangerous provisions for many victims, omits crucial protections for others, and generally weakens the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in New Hampshire.