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Editorial: Take Back the Night tackles important issues

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | MAY 03, 2013 5:00 AM

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Members of the University of Iowa Women’s Resource Action Center and Rape Victim Advocacy Program participated in a rally and march through downtown Iowa City called Take Back the Night on Tuesday.

The event’s sponsors intended to raise awareness about relational and sexual violence and sexual harassment, show support for victims, and call on the Iowa City and UI community to end these abusive activities. In recent years, the message of Take Back the Night has been extended from just women to include all sexes.

The Daily Iowan Editorial Board enthusiastically endorses the efforts of those who were involved in Take Back the Night.

No one should have to live in fear of being raped, sexually assaulted, or receiving threats of either. Such acts are committed without consent and violate the personal rights of victims who never — under any circumstances — deserve to be or are at fault for being victimized.

Arguably more disturbing than acts of rape and sexual assault is the notion that how someone dresses or when and where he or she goes at night can justify the perpetrators’ actions.

“If your house is unlocked, can burglars still enter?” Sarah Johnson, a lawyer with SPJ Consulting, said to The Daily Iowan. “Is it OK for them to take your stuff? I think we all agree the answer to that is no. So why should it be that if something happened to my body … I can excuse the behavior?”
Linda Kroon, the WRAC president, said that although everyone reacts differently to being raped or sexually assaulted, it is still a traumatic experience.

“Sometimes, they have symptoms that are very similar to [post traumatic stress disorder]; it can affect their ability to eat, to sleep, to work, and to study,” Kroon said.

That anyone should ever suffer from this kind of long-lasting pain at the hands of another person is tragic and by all standards of human decency, a horrific offense. It adds insult to injury when people have the gall to blame victims for being raped or sexually assaulted, especially considering the mental stress victims frequently experience that often stays with them for, if not most of their lives, a substantial period of time.

While nationally, sexual assault and rape rates fell dramatically from 1995 to 2005, they have since remained relatively constant from 2006 to 2010, according to a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. A greater portion of rapes and sexual assaults have also included injury to female victims, meaning that while reported incidences have fallen, they have also become slightly more violent.

One of the most bothersome findings included that of all rapes and sexual assaults, 56 percent were reported to the police in 2003, but then fell to 35 percent by 2010, around the same as in 1995. The rate of threats of sexual assault and rape have remained roughly flat since 1995.

It is abundantly clear that there is huge progress to be made in the fight against acts of and attitudes toward rape and sexual assault, even though U.S. society has made some dramatic improvements in recent years.

While some trends may be discouraging, glimmers of hope manifest in the outpouring of support for victims of rape and sexual assault that participants in Take Back the Night showed on Tuesday. It proves that people care. It proves that people have had enough. And so have we.


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