Women’s Center offers helping hand to combat sexual violence

Alex Dapp

On Sept. 28th, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law requiring all state colleges to adopt a policy of affirmative consent by students who engage in sexual activity.

This is part of a nationwide action to reduce sexual assault on college campuses. The state’s “Yes Means Yes” law is the nation’s first to make affirmative consent a primary focus of school sexual assault policies.

The legislation defines consent as “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” An individual under the influence of drugs or alcohol cannot consent to sexual activity. The law also states “affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity,” and can be revoked at any time. Silence and/or a lack of physical resistance should not be interpreted as consent.

[one_third last=”no”] The report stated nearly one in five college women are sexually assaulted by the time she graduates, and only 12 percent of these victims report assaults. [/one_third]

The bill requires that faculty members who review sexual assault complaints to undergo training in order to avoid asking inappropriate questions when a complaint is filed. The bill also requires that access to counseling, health care services and other resources be available for sexual assault victims.

“We must do more to raise awareness about the realities of sexual assault, confront and change insensitive attitudes wherever they persist, enhance training and education in the criminal justice system and expand access to critical health, legal and protection services for survivor,” President Obama said in April 2012.

In January, a report by the White House Council on Women and Girls was presented to President Obama. The report stated nearly one in five college women are sexually assaulted by the time she graduates, and only 12 percent of these victims report assaults.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden created www.notalone.gov, which provides tips for filing complaints. A report followed in May, listing 55 colleges and universities across the country facing investigation for their response to sexual abuse complaints.

As a part of Domestic Violence Awareness month, UMKC’s Women’s Center hosted a day of action on Friday, October 10th. The event asked students to participate in an art project titled “I Can, We Can” to spread awareness of domestic and sexual assault.

“We asked students to decorate a hand on a keychain, then to pass it along or leave it somewhere to spread the message that they [victims of domestic or sexual violence] have a helping hand,” said Deandra Jones, ”Her Art Project” intern.

For those looking for a helping hand, the UMKC Women’s Center provides a safe environment for victims of sexual and domestic violence. To file a complaint of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct or sexual violence, contact a Title IX coordinator at go.umkc.edu/TitleIX or call the UMKC Women’s Center at 816-235-1638.