Shortly after noon on Monday, Wagatwe Wanjuki sent out a tweet about what it was like to be a rape survivor.
Wanjuki, 27, took to Twitter after reading a June 6 Washington Post column by the conservative writer George Will that suggested there was no campus rape epidemic and that women were lying about being victims of sexual violence. In his column, Will challenged widely accepted statistics on sexual assault and declared that “victimhood,” as in being the survivor of such an assault, has become a “coveted status that confers privileges.”
Wanjuki’s hashtag #SurvivorPrivilege went on to trend widely among people sharing their experiences as survivors of sexual violence. Their voices became part of awidespread backlash against The Washington Post for publishing Will’s column.
“It was mind-boggling that someone would think there’s anything to gain by coming forward as a survivor,” Wanjuki told The Huffington Post. Survivors face ridicule, attacks and threats, she said, and it’s “just not a pleasant experience.”
Wanjuki first became public as a survivor in 2009, when she was a student at Tufts University in Massachusetts. Wanjuki says she was assaulted multiple times by a fellow Tufts student she was in a relationship with, but when she tried in 2008 to report him for a campus adjudication, the university told her their legal counsel said they didn’t have to take action. This was back before the U.S. Department of Education made it crystal clear in a 2011 Dear Colleague letter that universities had an obligation under Title IX to respond to reported sexual violence.
Read more about this case at BlackVoices.com