On January 22, 2014, the US government made advances in the fight against sexual violence. President Obama and Vice President Biden spoke to the press about the Administration’s newly drafted memorandum that establishes a White House Task Force aiming to protect students from sexual violence and increase prevention efforts in schools.
Their address touched on some important talking points surrounding sexual violence in order to stress its severity. Here are some excerpts:
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN
- Victim-blaming: “We have to stop blaming the victims for these crimes. No one ever asks the person who got robbed at gunpoint on the street, “Why were you there? What were you doing? What were you wearing?” We encourage people to come forward! We don’t have to explain why someone took our money.”
- Human liberties: “Freedom from sexual assault is a basic human right… A nation’s decency is in large part measured by how it responds to violence against women.”
- Consent: “No man has a right to go beyond the word ‘No,’ and if she cannot consent. That also means ‘No.’ That is a crime.”
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
- Recovery: “For survivors, the awful pain can take years, even decades to heal. Sometimes it last a lifetime.”
- National Impact: “It has to matter to all of us because when a young girl or young boy begins to question their self-worth after being assaulted and starts withdrawing, we’re all deprived of their full potential. When a young woman drops out of school after being attacked, that’s not just a loss for her, that’s a loss for our country. We’ve all got a stake in that young woman’s success. When a mother struggles to keep a job after an assault, or is assaulted in order to keep a job, that matters to all of us… If we’re not there supporting them, shame on us.”
The President went on to discuss some of the goals and details of this new initiative. The task force will be led by the Office of the Vice President and the White House Council on Women and Girls, and will place emphasis on developing a response to rape and sexual assault on college campuses. One of the main goals is prevention; therefore the task force will provide institutions with evidence-based, promising practices for preventing and responding to rape and sexual assault. The task force will also hold these institutions accountable for applying these methods.
We at PAAR want to highlight the feature of the plan that includes “increasing the transparency of the Federal Government’s enforcement activities concerning rape and sexual assault.” This means that the information regarding the task force’s actions will be more readily available to the public.
PAAR has high hopes for the White House’s Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. Please stay tuned with us as we track its progress. We have included the video of President Obama’s speech below. Let us know your feelings on it!