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March 8, 2013

READERS' FORUM: March 8, 2013

Violence Against Women Act enhances learning

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA). On Thursday, President Obama signed this legislation into law. The bipartisan VAWA Reauthorization bill supports local domestic violence programs, emergency shelters, transitional housing, supportive counseling, advocacy and other services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. According to the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault, one in seven women in Indiana will be raped in her lifetime (www.incasa.org).

With sexual assault being the least reported crime in the United States, our country needs strong initiatives such as those supported by VAWA to create a culture where survivors feel comfortable reporting the crime they have experienced instead of blamed.

Studies have shown that by age 18, one in seven boys will have also been sexually assaulted. VAWA not only supports initiatives that assist women who have been victims of sexual violence, but it supports all survivors including children. The 2013 bill supports efforts to address sexual violence crimes in underserved populations such as lesbians, gays, transsexuals and bisexuals, Native Americans, and immigrants, including victims of human trafficking.  

The Violence Against Women Act included the Campus SaVE Act this year. This legislation will require more reporting of crimes and greater prevention efforts on campuses.

The Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coalition at Indiana State University has been working to address these issues for the past four years through bystander intervention, policy analysis, data collection, male involvement, and social marketing. Preventing sexual violence before it ever occurs is vital.  

Safe and civil communities — whether they be neighborhoods or schools — significantly enhance learning as well as opportunities for economic well-being. As educators, as well as victims’ advocates, the higher education community commends the bipartisan effort that led to the passage of this bill.

— Stephanie Janssen-Robinson

Associate Director for Wellness

Student Counseling Center

Indiana State University

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