The world has come together this month to combat sexual assault and raise awareness for consent through Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) – here is a summary of the news regarding sexual assault from this week: good, bad, and everything in between.
The University of Kansas student union saw the display of a powerful exhibit, “What Were You Wearing?”, displaying 18 outfits each matched to a rape survivor’s story. The exhibit aims to dispel the myth that victims’ clothing can be a reason or even an excuse for sexual assault. The concept was originally started in 2013 by Jen Brockman and Mary Wyandt-Hiebert, and the organisers are now offering up the exhibit to be hosted in other locations.
Beyonce was not the only story to emerge from California’s hottest desert festival: Teen Vogue interviewed a staggering 54 women who all had stories of sexual harassment from Coachella, not to mention the reporter herself, who was groped 22 times in the 10 hours she was at the festival researching and interviewing for the article.
It also came to light just this week that during closed-door meetings at the UN in March this year, Trump administration officials pushed for abstinence-based policies ahead of contraceptive education during a discussion on women’s right issues, referencing the importance of teaching women sexual “refusal skills.” Such views from government officials put the US in a far more conservative position than most other countries at the table, including Russia and the Arab states.
Student heroes against sexual assault were recognised and celebrated at the Biden Courage Awards on Wednesday, April 18, hosted by the Biden Foundation and It’s On Us, a national movement determined to end sexual assault. Among the honourees was SUNY Cortland junior, Kyle Richard, who was shot twice as a result of stopping an attempted rape in Long Island last summer. Former Vice President Biden was in attendance at the event to show respect and gratitude to the honorees, and both organisations see the event as a way of highlighting key change-makers, so that others will be inspired to take similar action.
Finally, expert toxicologists took the stand this Thursday in Bill Cosby’s ongoing trial for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting a former friend over a decade ago. The comedian and actor stands to spend 10 years in prison if convicted. The toxicologists have been called to testify about Cosby’s alleged knowledge and use of Quaaludes to seduce women.
With all that’s been going on this week, let’s take inspiration from these events and end SAAM with empowered action against sexual assault.