Em-URGE-ing Voices

Posts Tagged: rape

New and Improved VAWA Passes (But There’s Still Room for Improvement!)

The Violence Against Women Act serves to protect and assist survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Last Thursday, the House finally approved the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) – “the good version” – sending off a bipartisan Senate decision to the President’s desk. The legislation passed on a vote of 286 to 138 with 199 Democrats and 87 Republicans supporting reauthorization of the landmark 1994 law.  Last month, the Senate passed the measure with 78 votes; those votes include every woman, every Democrat and just over half of the Republicans. In 2012 House Republicans officially allowed VAWA to expire until the next Congress, and for over a year they effectively stalled the re-authorization of VAWA.  This marked the first time since its conception that VAWA was not… Read more »

One Billion Rising: Dancing, and Rising Against Violence Against Women

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to attend an event called One Billion Rising which was put on by the UCF School of Social Work and the theater department. The event had that name to refer to the World Wide Movement of One Billion rising which calls on women to walk out, dance, or rise for the I billion women on the planet  that have or will experience sexual abuse or rape in their lifetimes. Prior to becoming aware of this event, I knew about the One Billion Rising Movement from Kerry Washington who discussed it during a television interview. As I walked up to the event I noticed that there were a lot of women dressed in pinks or reds to celebrate Valentine’s Day and to stand for this cause…. Read more »

Rape is a Reproductive Justice Issue

Rape is a reproductive justice issue. Choice USA is committed to a world where all people have agency over their bodies and relationships and the power, knowledge and tools to exercise that agency. Sexual and reproductive agency begins with the right to decide where, when, how and with whom we should have sex.  Nothing takes away this agency more violently than rape. Whether you have been sexually assaulted, witnessed sexual assault, cared for or listened to someone who has been assaulted or are among the millions who hear the rising number of reports of survivors of assault, rape has become a part of our everyday culture. The threat of sexual violence affects the way we experience sex, relationships and even our own bodies. As a survivor of rape, your feelings… Read more »

Congressional Fail: What Happened to the Violence Against Women Act

2012 was full of fascinating–and occasionally terrifying–reproductive justice dialogues. Beginning in February when Rush Limbaugh made disparaging comments about Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke’s congressional speech in support of mandated insurance coverage of birth control, it became clear that the “war on women” and reproductive agency was in full swing. Less than a month later, President Obama issued a Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month Proclamation where he asserted that “the prevalence of sexual assault remains an affront to our national conscience that we cannot ignore.” As the presidential election approached, Republican candidate Mitt Romney stated that Roe v. Wade–the case which legalized abortion–should be overturned. He also voiced a similar stance on the Affordable Care Act. After the election in November, things seemed to be on the up and… Read more »

“You’re on Your Own:” Assault and Abortion in the Armed Forces

“It is horrible enough to be sexually assaulted; when that assault results in an unwanted pregnancy, it begins the trauma anew.” One rape that goes unpunished in the U.S. military would be wrong, but in our military, there are thousands. There were nearly 3,200 reported cases of sexual assault in the military last year, but a Pentagon survey shows the actual number was close to 19,000 because most aren’t reported. Despite the high numbers of sexual assault in the United States military, women who become pregnant as a result of rape while serving in the military are denied abortion coverage under their health plans.  Last Wednesday, Senate decided that this policy will remain in place.  Under current policy, pregnant women in the military are only able to use their insurance… Read more »

Rape Culture: A Case Study

Rape culture. Even if you’re not familiar with the fancy new wave feminist lingo, you’ve probably witnessed at least example of it somewhere in day-to-day life. Simply, rape culture is an environment where sexual violence is taken lightly and seen as the norm. When rape culture is present, we may be told that assault is an inevitability or given, or even–get ready, here’s the real kicker–that someone may be “asking” to be raped just by dressing a certain way. Marshall University’s Women’s Center offers the following, super concise definition: Rape Culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture. Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s… Read more »

Domestic Violence, Reproductive Justice & Young People Writing Their Own Narrative

“He refuses to use a condom. I’ve bought them and he throws them out.” –Survivor on the National Domestic Violence Hotline “He threatened me when I asked to use birth control, and always refused to use condoms after we became exclusive. When we decided to continue the pregnancy and marry, the overt abuse started within days of our wedding.” –Jessica’s Story The stories above are an everyday reality for women who are in unhealthy and abusive relationships.  For those who don’t know, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Each October, national and local domestic violence organizations and activists work to mourn those who have died, celebrate those who have survived, and connect those who work to end violence. The statistics around domestic and dating violence are staggering: 1 in 4… Read more »

Why Does No One Talk About Sexual Assault in the LGTBQ Community?

For the most part, I exist within two realms: That of American women and that of LGBT Americans. When a friend makes the playful joke that my life is “sooo gay,” I can only agree. But it’s also “sooo feminist,” too. These communities aren’t mutually exclusive, though. There’s a lot of overlap between that which is feminist and that which is queer. There is no need to choose sides. If anything, this sort of dual existence has a lot of perks. I have a heightened awareness of the ways gender, sexuality, and privilege all play out in my “gay-to-day” existence. Because I care about reproductive justice, I also care about sexual freedom. And because I care about sexual freedom, I also care about consent, and the things that compromise it…. Read more »