All Articles Tagged "sexual assault"
People have literally elevated manicures to the level of nail art, but now, they can also save your life. Thanks to a group of students at North Carolina State University who launched a new product called Undercover Colors, your nails will be able to identify if you have been exposed to a date rape drug.
Women who wear the Undercover Colors nail polish can dip and stir their finger into a drink they deem suspicious at a bar or party. If common date rape drugs such as GHB, Xanax or Rohypnol are present in the drink, the nail polish color will change. The inventors of Undercover Colors: Stephan Gray, Tyler Confrey-Maloney, Tasso Von Windheim, and Ankesh Madan state via their business Facebook Page:
With our nail polish, any woman will be empowered to discreetly ensure her safety by simply stirring her drink with her finger. If her nail polish changes color, she’ll know that something is wrong. Through this nail polish and similar technologies, we hope to make potential perpetrators afraid to spike a woman’s drink because there’s now a risk that they can get caught. In effect, we want to shift the fear from the victims to the perpetrators. We are Undercover Colors and we are the first fashion company empowering women to prevent sexual assault.
They have received $250,000 from investors and won the North Carolina State Entrepreneurship Initiative award. Currently the product is still be tested but you can still donate to the cause. Some may be surprised the inventor staff is all male but they relayed to Higher Education Works that they each have someone close to them who was sexually assaulted.
“All of us have been close to someone who has been through the terrible experience, and we began to focus on preventive solutions, especially those that could be integrated into products that women already use. And so the idea of creating a nail polish that detects date rape drugs was born,” said Madan.
Not only is this business plan thoughtful but purposeful, hoping to decrease the number of assaults that occur and usually go unreported on college campuses.
Recently on her Facebook page, Jada Pinkett-Smith showed her solidarity in the #JusticeForJada campaign by posting the young Jada’s picture and a link to her story with the caption:
This could be you, me or any woman or girl that we know. What do we plan to do about this ugly epidemic? #justiceforjada
We’ve reported earlier that Jada is the 16-year-old Texas girl who came forward, speaking to the media after pictures of her assault were broadcast all over the internet and even became an ugly hashtag.
But in a recent interview with Us Weekly, she explained that her passion about this particular campaign is more personal than we originally thought.
Pinkett- Smith told the publication that her own niece could have suffered the same terrible fate as Jada.
“If you saw what I put on Facebook, you also saw that this could happen to any woman that we know and the unfortunate part is that my niece was given a date-rape drug that weekend. Thank God — she’s 20 — so thank God that nothing happened, because she was with some responsible guys that took care of her, and with three of her friends. She said, ‘Oh my God I can’t feel my…’ she was losing consciousness. Thank God the people she was with put her in a room, closed the door, and she didn’t come to for three and a half hours.”
Jada said that instead of shielding Willow from this terrible and nearly tragic incident, she decided to be open and honest about it.
“I’m not a conventional parent, which I take a lot of pride in. The first thing I had my niece do was sit down with my daughter and a couple of her friends and tell her about that experience. I don’t just sit with Willow and go, ‘Hey, this is what Mommy thinks.’ Let me just bring in a little reality to validate what Mommy’s been talking to you about.
What I do with Willow is I give her the opportunity to be empowered by having herself first because when you allow a person to be an individual and you allow a person to have power within and have confidence on who they are, you’ll never have to look into the eyes of a man and question whether it’s a yes or a no. She’s gonna be very clear: No. She’s gonna be very clear: Yes. And she’s gonna be in a position to be able to determine how to protect herself. Know when you’re in danger. Should you be a girl that goes into a room with four men drinking. Should you? Even if you think you know them? Is this about wanting to be the cool girl or is this about wanting to set a standard for yourself?”
Pinkett-Smith said the rape and sexual assault that plagues women and girls is indicative of a larger treatment around the way in which women are treated and mistreated in this country.
“There is an epidemic going on out here in regards to the treatment of women.”
The National Summit on Sexual Assault, hosted by Dartmouth College, began this week in an effort to establish policies on how to address sexual assault on college campuses around the nation.
More than 300 administrators and advocates at the Summit have been attending sessions that encourage officials to take a firm stand against misogyny, sexism, and other issues that encourage sexual assault, ranging from language and imagery to music.
Federal officials have also called for institutions to maintain a higher standard in regards to combating and addressing sexual violence on their campuses. Back in April, as part of the Obama administration’s efforts to stop campus assaults, a number of Hollywood actors participated in an awareness-raising PSA.
And although it wasn’t directly addressed on the stage, talk about Dartmouth’s recent problems were also used as examples of why the problem needs to be addressed. Earlier in the year a “rape guide” (which included rape and death threats) was posted on a college board targeting a student on Dartmouth’s campus. Students expressed their concern over the lack of comments and public investigation by Dartmouth administrators.
Another panel discussed the language that institutions use to “soften” sexual assaults, like referring to rape as “non consensual sex.”
Some resolutions have already come about, with the suggestion that schools issue “climate surveys” as a way to gauge the concerns and issues students have concerning sexual assault on their campus. This would be implemented as a way to see which matters are most pressing and how administrators can develop policies and procedures to effectively handle situations as they arise, as well as preventative measures.
Programs that get members of the community involved were also suggested. And there was discussion about how to get men more engaged.
Currently, the federal government uses the Clery Act and Title IX to enforce standards. And The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault was created to reinforce President Obama’s initiative against rape on college campuses. While The Clery Act requires institutions to regularly report campus crime statistics and to issue warning to students, Title IX requires institutions to protect their members from sexual harassment and violence.
A survey by Senator Claire McCaskill found that of 440 institutions, more than 40 percent hadn’t conducted a sexual assault investigation in the past five years. Some question educational institutions accountability when it comes to sexual assaults, but the Department of Education’s assistant secretary for civil rights Catherine Lhamon believes otherwise.
“I resist pretty hard the notion that schools don’t have a role in this. They absolutely do,” Lhamon said. “This is fundamental to the educational mission. … And it is necessarily different from what is the criminal justice role, and that to me doesn’t feel like a particularly problematic reality. The reality that sexual assault is a crime does not take away from the ways that it also creates a hostile environment for students subject to it.”
A new bill working its way through the California legislation will likely revolutionize the way college campuses and students consent to sexual activity. But are the proposed changes the kind of changes needed?
The bill is called SB-967, and it was introduced by California Democratic state Sens. Kevin De Leon and Hannah-Beth Jackson, as well as coauthored by Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal. And according to the language, the bill seeks to amend the student safety section of the state’s Education Code, to require college students in particular to provide “affirmative consent” prior to engaging in any sexual activity, including kissing.
According to various published reports, the bill, which has already passed the state senate and is working its way through the state Assembly, would also require California colleges and universities receiving state funds for financial aid to create and implement policies and standards to not only address affirmative consent, but also for those institutions to “implement comprehensive prevention and outreach programs addressing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.”
As many supporters of the legislations have noted, this bill does away with the often murky blurred lines of consent, which results from tough to prove cases of sexual assault like date rape and when the victim is intoxicated or passed out. Now alleged offenders would have to prove that consent in the affirmative was given prior to engaging in sex, as opposed to the old way, which relied on alleged victims of sexual assault, having to prove that they said no.
However the response to the bill has been a pretty mixed bag. As Emma Woolf writes in her piece for The Daily Beast, entitled Does California’s College Rape Bill Go Too Far In Regulating Sex?, the bill has its problems, particularly how -as it is currently written – a consenting couple would have to seek permission for each sexual act, prior to it actually occurring. And by definition, that would make every single sexual act in the state of California rape in the pretext. More specifically she notes:
“But what about regular physical intimacy between regular (non-criminal) students? Are we in danger, in the rush to legislate, of ruining the moment? When I was a teenager, the stages of physical intimacy were called bases: so you might go to first base, second base, third base, or “all the way.” (I don’t remember any young men checking in between bases…)
Comedians love to satirise this kind of law: “May I touch your left breast?’ “You may touch my left breast’; “May I touch your right breast?’ etc. Comedy aside, the conviction rate for rape and other sexual crimes is scandalously low, and this bill seems unlikely to right that wrong. The tragic fact is that rape can and does happen within marriages: once again, SB 967 does nothing to address that.
But in a response to those criticisms, Martha Kemper of the reproduction rights and sexual health website, Reality Check, points out in her piece, Is Affirmative Consent the Answer to Sexual Assault on College Campuses?, that kind of thinking belittles the act of consent and the paranoia of those who are being overly sensitive. Instead, Kemper writes about the law’s potential to address rape culture as a whole:
“But communication is still important. Young men have been taught by our society that their role in relationships is to want sex badly, and women’s is to reluctantly give it to them. Many have never really been taught what is and isn’t consent—except, perhaps, “no means no.” That does not excuse any man who rapes, but it is a problem. Fostering a culture of affirmative consent among both parties could prevent at least some men from raping.”
That is an important point to note considering the US Department of Education is currently investigating 55 colleges and universities for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases. Personally, I feel like this law is potentially some game-changing stuff here. In addition to getting folks to think in new ways about how we communicate sexually including consent. It looks like it will begin to hold education institutions more accountable. But I do worry about the implication and those pesky grey areas. Like how can expressed consent, particularly the verbal kind, be proven when the people involved are disputing the claim? And whose word will matter more? If the we currently treat sexual assault victims in the legal justice system is any indication, potential victims of sexual assault might run into some of the same institutional barriers and biases, particularly the discrediting women through slut-shaming, they had before.
Have you heard the story about the man who pulled his pen*s out and started touching it while riding on a Philadelphia transit bus?
As the story goes, a woman was riding the 23 bus on Philadelphia’s SEPTA transit line. A man sitting next to her pulled out his pen*s and started touching it. Disgusted, the woman, a Temple University doctoral student, pulled out her cell phone and began recording the man as he fondled himself. After publicly shaming him, thus forcing others on the bus to reaction, the man was finally ejected from the bus.
Somehow the video ended up on a Facebook page, mockingly titled People of SEPTA (because poor and possibly mentally ill people riding public transit are funny), where it went viral. Eventually the local media picked up the story, followed by the national media, who can’t resist a good d*ck joke (am I right?). Not wanting to look inept, the local police department announced that it would comb the city far and wide for the perp. Luckily they had some help from folks who saw his picture on the news and recognized him as a coworker and neighbor. An arrest warrant has been issued for the man for open lewdness and reckless endangerment. Reports say that the palm greaser is expected to turn himself in to authorities pretty soon.
Honestly, it is a great story about how a single woman was able to use technology to stand up for herself against a pervert. If only we could be this vigilant when no camera is around. Or when the victim just happens to be a lowly camera-less black girl like myself…
Once, I was driving home from a party when I got to the red light at an intersection, which was only a few corners away from my own block. I was tired and couldn’t wait to get to sleep. I had the music going and the windows down low to keep me alert. I share all of that in hopes that it will explain my delayed reaction to the pen*s pointing at me through the driver’s side door of a man’s car who was also waiting at the red light. A huge d**k. I might have been impressed in different circumstances, like knowing the dude and giving consent before having a huge monster in my face, but not when I’m sitting at the traffic light. And not with a strange hand stroking it back and forth.
Naturally, I refused his offer to watch him slap his man around and freaked out. I called him a bunch of unintelligible curse words and peeled off through the red light. I didn’t get a good look at this pervert’s face (because there was a pen*s in my face), but I do know that he was light brown with a huge afro and kinda resembled that Huey character from The Boondocks. It was certainly enough information to warn some folks. And that’s what I attempted to do, via Facebook. However, some people didn’t think that was enough. They thought I should immediately go to the police and report the incident. I thought that preposterous and a waste of time. After all, I wasn’t physically hurt or anything.
“Yeah but what about other women or even girls, who he may do it too[sic]? Or worse, what if he esculates[sic]? You could be preventing a crime from happening in the future,” advised one good male friend.
Talk about a guilt trip. But they are right. Most research I found says that paraphilia, including voyeurism and exhibitionism (i.e. the flashers, the camera-up-the-skirt guys and public masturbators), includes people with uncontrolled impulses and they account for about one-third of all sex offenders. They also have the highest rate of recidivism of all types of sexual offenders. Clearly, these people who flash you their genitalia are insane in the membrane, Additionally, some physiologists and other mental health personnel believe that exhibitionists do have a tendency to engage in even more deviant sexual behaviors.
I thought about the first time I was unwillingly flashed a pen*s, as a middle school student on the way to school on a SEPTA. I recalled how I felt again in college, when the police knocked on my apartment door to alert me and my roommate that they had caught a guy who was staring at us through our window. And I remembered again how I felt during one summer semester of of courses at a community college, when a man decided to jerk off in the cafeteria, using my boobs as motivation. In all of those situations I felt disgusted, degraded and, dare I say, violated. But I also felt guilty and ashamed too. As if something I had done had brought on this unwanted attention. As a repeated victim of an exhibitionist’s exploits, I tired of feeling like that. And my friends were right: something had to be done about this.
So the following day I drove to the closest police district and attempted to do my civic duty. A redheaded white officer came to the sliding police window and asked me what I wanted. I told him I was there to report a crime. He pulled out a notepad and a pen and said, “Okay, shoot.” I told him the story. He looked at me curiously for a few minutes and then said, “Is that it?”
Is that it?
Well I’m sorry he didn’t throw me down to the ground, beat me up and then penetrate me, but yeah, that’s all I’ve got officer. He put his pen down, sighed heavily and said, “Well, we’ll make a report and keep it on file. But you know…” And then he shrugged. Despite his vow to create a file, never once did he ask my name or a description of The Boondocks-looking guy. Feeling dejected, as well as humiliated again, I turned on my heels and left the station, vowing never to “waste their time” ever again. Granted, I wasn’t expecting a dragnet to be dispersed around the city, but couldn’t I at least get a report on file? Just in case this joker shows up again, on more serious charges?
My instinct is to just chalk this all up to the hazards of being a black woman from a low-income community – in other words, I just don’t matter to the authorities at large. And it does seem that exhibitionist crimes are taken far more seriously in predominately white and affluent neighborhoods in particular, having police investigate and provide warnings via media. For example, police involvement came the year that a serial bottom-pincher stalked white women in downtown Philadelphia. The police were all over that. And both the police and media were too all over the creepy flasher dubbed the “Swiss cheese pervert,” who had been been exposing himself to women and asking for hand-jobs with a piece of cheese, also in a predominately white part of town.
But then again, those crimes only seem to matter when they are caught on tape, such as the man masturbating next to the Temple student on the public bus. And I guess it makes sense as the cameras give us a visual perspective to a crime. Sadly, it also gives folks an opportunity to laugh while the rest of us feel disgust (notice most of the headlines attached to these stories about men like the bus masturbator are always tongue-and-cheek). But that’s kind of a real problem, isn’t it?
After all, how serious about ending sexual assault are we if we make light of, or minimize the importance of potential precursors like exhibitionism? I’m not saying we have to lock up every flasher, but we should be just as adamant at intercepting that behavior before they can drop their pants on unsuspecting people. I think about The Boondocks kid from time to time. And I physically cringe at the idea that he is roaming the streets, pulling his thing out on other young women and girls. As vile as it is, I really hope that is all that he is doing. As we know, the majority of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. As long as we continue to see these stories as harmless and a matter of entertainment, the less serious that these sex crimes will be taken by law enforcement. And more importantly, the less likely women (and men too) will be willing to report said incidents.
How many times have our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and fathers advised us on how to prevent the sexual assault that they knew was sure to come. They told us not to wear too short, too tight clothes, warned us about leaving our drinks unattended at parties and forwarded e-mails about how to protect ourselves from the potential attacks of strange men in the darkness.
Most of us have heard these things. But speeches about rape, consent and street harassment were rarely discussed with our brothers, cousins and, in the case of mothers, our sons.
It’s no secret that there is gross ignorance, misunderstanding and apathy among men when it comes to the sexual assault women experience, on a daily basis, in this country. But the White House is trying to combat that. After Vice President Joe Biden, delivered a speech on protecting students from sexual assault, the Obama administration introduced their new PSA and campaign against sexual assault.
The commercial features actors like Daniel Craig, Benicio Del Toro, Steve Carell, Seth Meyers and Dulé Hill as well as the president and vice president. It’s the second commercial in the president’s 1 is 2 Many campaign which featured celebrities like Eli Manning, Jeremy Lin and David Beckham.
Take a look at the PSA above and spread the word.
There are plenty of people who love to dismiss the notion that there’s a rape culture that exists within our society. Rape culture excuses the behavior and in some cases the people who perpetuate these heinous acts. They excuse this behavior by pointing the finger at victim, asking questions like what did she drink?, what neighborhood was she in?, what time of night was it? and most commonly, what she was wearing?
All of this is victim blaming. It insinuates that the victim had something to do with their own assault. And it’s all problematic. More than anything we need to be teaching our brothers, our sons and cousins about consent, what constitutes it and what doesn’t, and above all else, don’t rape women. It all seems very simple. But in our society women have conversations with the younger generations about how to protect themselves from sexual assaults but not as often are younger males told simply do not assault women.
To illustrate society’s reliance on victim-blaming, yesterday Twitter user Christine Fox, who writes under the Twitter handle @steenfox, started a conversation where she asked her followers what they wore when they were sexually assaulted. Her question debunked the myth that women can somehow prevent their attacks by dressing differently.
There were several harrowing responses. Women wrote how they were wearing jeans and t-shirts, some were in office clothes, bathing suits, school clothes, a maxi dress, hooded sweatshirts etc.
The most memorable responses came from women who were sexually assaulted as young children.
“pink princess pajamas. I was 6.”
“House clothes-probably jeans and a t-shirt. I was 7. My mom’s friend babysat me. It was her nephew…”
“Pajamas at a sleepover in a room full of girls and an irresponsible mother.”
“…a black & white striped, one piece bathing suit with a ruffle around the middle. I was 6.”
Then there were the women who had survived several assaults and described more than one outfit.
Fox herself told The Washington Post that she was assaulted by a man she knew and trusted and there was nothing she could have done differently.
Fox says she hopes people focus on these stories. These stories and the brave people who shared them inspired some much needed conversations.
“I’m not an advocate or anything like that. I’m just a person who has had this experience. I had no idea that it was going to turn into this. The most important thing is that it brought awareness to a lot of people, myself included.”
She said in addition that the survivors, parents reached out to her to tell her they were going to talk to their children about sexual assault.
Clayton County Sheriff Phillip Emmanuel Richards, 42, is behind bars after a 13-year-old girl accused him of sexually assaulting her, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
According to police reports, the teen is actually a relative of Richards’ girlfriend. The alleged incident occurred around 1 a.m. Saturday morning after Richards’ was asked to look after the juvenile. The teen, who was asleep on the floor, says she woke up to Richards sexually attacking her after she fell alseep watching a movie in her mother’s room.
“The complainant indicated that the offender performed a sexual act on a juvenile victim as she was asleep on the floor,” said Clayton County Police officer Ron Coloma in an emailed statement.
The teen says she escaped Richards’attack by running to her room, climbing out of a window and fleeing to a relative’s home to get help. Not long after her escape, officers were dispatched to the alleged scene of the crime. Richards was later arrested and charged with aggravated child molestation.
According to WSBTV, Richards has been denied bond and is currently being held at the Clayton County jail. He has also been placed on administrative leave without pay impending the outcome of the case.
A California court charged five time Pro-Bowl player turned NFL analyst, Darren Sharper with drugging and raping two women on Friday. His arraignment has been postponed until February 20.
The list of charges is long as Sharper is charged with two counts of rape by the use of drugs, four counts of furnishing a controlled substance and one count of possession of a controlled substance. The controlled substances include morphine and a form of the sleep aid, Ambien.
The 38-year old who once played for both the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints is suspected of raping seven women in four other states by lacing their drinks with drugs, and may have even drugged others in their company. He is suspected of 11 druggings total.
According to CNN.com, on October 30 Sharper met two women at Los Angeles nightclub, Bootsy Bellows and invited them to a party as alleged by authorities. Sharper then told the women he had to stop by his hotel room to pick up something and offered them drinks once they arrived which caused them to pass out. When they woke up hours later one of the women believed she had been sexually assaulted and immediately sought medical treatment. Another California woman alleges a similar incident happened to her in October. Women in New Orleans, Nevada and Arizona all share similar stories in which Sharper is a suspect.
Sharper was arrested on January 17 by Los Angeles police and released on $200,000 bond. The NFL subsequently suspended him without pay. If convicted he faces up to 30 years in state prison.
If the allegations are true, we hope that Sharper pays for what he put these women through. It’s another harsh reminder that whether you’re partying with co-eds or professional athletes, you have to be extremely cautious and aware of your surroundings. No woman’s dress or behavior justifies her being assaulted, but that’s no excuse to be unaware of the signals you may be sending or how you are compromising your safety when you meet a man and accompany him to his room or residence at all hours of the night. At the same time we can’t seem to understand why these high-profile men feel the need to resort to drugging and raping women. In any case if this is indeed a pattern for Sharper, he has some serious problems and needs professional help.
You may have noticed some slight shade at last month’s Golden Globe Awards when Woody Allen received the highly regarded Cecile B. Demille Award. The famed writer/director/producer has a pretty creepy reputation in terms of his personal life ever since marrying the adoptive daughter of actress Mia Farrow, his partner of 12 years. He was also accused of sexually abusing another one of Farrow’s daughters, Dylan. Shortly after Diane Keaton took to the stage to accept the award on Allen’s behalf (he wasn’t in attendance), Mia Farrow and son Ronan took to Twitter to express a little passive aggression. Ronan tweeted:
“Missed the Woody Allen tribute – did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?”
Well just when we thought the annual round of accusations were over, The New York Times has recently published an open letter that Dylan Farrow has penned to the obscure film director and former step-father/brother-in-law (Is that how that works?) It’s definitely a difficult read:
“When I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me.”
“He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we’d go to Paris and I’d be a star in his movies.”
Just recently, while leaving Madison Square Garden after a Knicks game with his wife, Soon Yi and their daughter, Allen fumbled through his phone ignoring a photographer who asked about the detailed accusations. Allen has long denied the claims, but Dylan Farrow admits that she has never gotten over the fact that he was never convicted of the crime.
From R. Kelly to Chris Stokes of R&B group B2K fame, it’s sad how often sexual assault and molestation is quickly swept up under the Hollywood red carpet. It seems more often that it’s only treated as the next new scandal or hot headline and nothing ever seems to really get done about it. It appears that money and fame can buy anything, even innocence. Unfortunately what’s all too often left behind are victims who were robbed of theirs.
To read the article in its entirety, visit The New York Times