File this one under It’s About Time: Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has announced that the military is implementing new strategies to prevent sexual assaults and improve their current system for responding to sex crimes. According to official data, there were 3,191 reported sexual assaults in 2011; however, these crimes so often go unreported that Panetta and his team estimate the actual number to be astronomically higher — closer to 19,000. The new plan includes better training for victims’ advocates, increased funding for investigators, and an improved data system to compile sexual assault information across different branches of the military. While these changes aren’t necessarily revolutionary, it is a sign that the armed forces are taking sexual assaults more seriously, and that’s a step in the right direction. [The Raw Story]
“Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
This is the new, expansive definition of rape approved by the FBI last week, which will more accurately reflect how sexual assaults are tabulated by the government in its Uniform Crime Report. The FBI’s working definition of “rape,” created in the 1920s, had been roundly criticized by everyone from police chiefs, sex crime investigators, and victims’ advocate for only defining assault as “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.” That definition entirely left out male victims and ignored incidents when the victim was penetrated against his or her will orally, anally, with an object, and under the influence of drugs or alcohol (such as being roofied). As a result, the number of sexual assaults released by the FBI’s annual crime report drastically under-reported the crimes perpetrated in the country. Keep reading »
Just because Michele Bachmann dropped out of the 2012 presidential race doesn’t mean we’re in the clear — there are still plenty of candidates who would love nothing more than to restrict women’s reproductive rights. Newt Gingrich was asked by a voter yesterday whether he supports abortion if the woman was impregnated via rape or incest. And what do you think Mr. Compassionate had to say about that?
No, I wouldn’t make exceptions. What I would try to do is create a program that would enable women in those circumstances to have support and help them through whatever process they needed both in terms of counseling and in terms of if they wanted to give up the baby for adoption. Keep reading »
Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has always been against a woman’s right to choose. As Texas governor, he has supported bills to restrict access to abortion and made public statements like “Every life lost to abortion is a tragedy.” However, Perry had believed abortion should remain legal in cases of rape, incest, or if the woman’s life is at risk.
Not for long: in the past week, Perry’s pro-life stance took a sharp — and deadly — turn to an even further extreme. And then, barely a day later, he backtracked on abortion yet again. Keep reading »
Sexual assault and the threat of sexual assault are used as a way to control women. Nowhere is that more present, lately, than in Egypt where female protesters have been forced to undergo “virginity tests” administered by soldiers when they are arrested and imprisoned. Yesterday, a Cairo court sided with protester Samira Ibrahim, age 25, who was assaulted with a “virginity test” after she was arrested in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in March, and ordered that the military stop forcing its way into women’s bodies. The court’s ruling claimed, “These acts involve deliberate humiliation and intentional insult to women participating in protests.” Keep reading »
Pennsylvania’s Liquor Control Board is under fire for a new PSA campaign called Control Tonight, which critics say puts the onus on women for “not getting raped” while drunk and is blaming the victim. The ad in question depicts a woman’s bare legs on what looks like a tiled bathroom floor with her panties pulled down to her ankles and the text reads:
02:19 a.m SHE DIDN’T WANT TO DO IT, BUT SHE COULDN’T SAY NO.
When your friends drink, they can end up making bad decisions. Like going home with someone they don’t know very well.
Decisions like that leave them vulnerable to dangers like date rape. Help your friends stay in control and stay safe. Keep reading »