Women's empowerment celebrated and advocated


SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Instead of mourning the violence toward women in today’s society, the Iowa U.N. Association held an event to celebrate empowering women.

This was held as part of the 16 Days Against Gender Violence — an event that occurs all around the world between Nov. 25 and Dec. 10.

The organization on Tuesday hosted several speakers and musical performances at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St.

“I wanted to make it a celebration about women’s empowerment,” said Emily McGovern, an intern for the Iowa U.N. Association.

Speakers at the event covered both local and international issues, beginning with the less-spoken-about issue of Systemic Gender Violence, in which the violence toward a woman is reported, but the accused is not held accountable or the woman does not receive proper justice.

University of Iowa Assistant Professor Aniruddha Dutta and graduate teaching assistant Renu Pariyadath both spoke at the event.

“[Systemic Gender Violence] is not a single perpetrator, as we usually picture it,” Pariyadath said.

McGovern said she chose Pariyadath and Dutta because she wanted the event to be “both internationally and locally focused.”

Iowa City police Detective Kevin Bailey and Women’s Health Manager Michelle Turner also spoke, highlighting some of the misconceptions about reporting a sexual assault and steps that are taken for a sexual assault case in Iowa City.

Both Bailey and Turner spoke about an assault victim’s usual fear to press charges, sometimes even to accuse the perpetrator of the assault.

“Survivors are in the driver’s seat,” Bailey said. “It has to be recovery first, law enforcement second.”

Bailey and Turner did say, however, just giving the name of the perpetrator can go a long way, even if the victims themselves do not press charges. This will lead to a file opened on the suspect, and this can identify a sexual predator before he attacks again.

“The importance to us, to law enforcement, is to get the bad guy,” Turner said.

Turner said Iowa City has a sexual-assault team that meets monthly to discuss how to handle patients and work with law enforcement. Turner said the most important part is the victim is in charge of what she needs to recover.

“She doesn’t have to do anything but receive medicine for sexually transmitted diseases,” Turner said.

Bailey praised the system Iowa City has in place, saying he “just wishes every department would have what we have locally.”

WRAC added its own performance by the WRACtivists, who read a letter from Eve Ensler, an award-winning playwright, performer, and activist, to politician Todd Akin about his comments about what he called “legitimate rape.”

In addition to the reading and the speakers, local musical acts were also featured. The three acts featured at the event — Dana T, Speedyhead, and Ruthless Ruth — were all friends of the association, McGovern said.

Though a celebration of empowerment, officials say it is important not to forget the dangers that lead to the event being hosted, especially on a college campus. WRAC Director Linda Stewart Kroon said FBI statistics show sexual assaults are most common between the ages of 18 and 24 — the age of most college students.

UI spokesman Tom Moore noted that one in four women will experience sexual assaults in their college careers.

“Overall, our campus is considered to be relatively safe,” Moore said. “But this is an issue that can touch anyone.”

In today's issue:

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.