A laudable bipartisan effort

Politics put aside for bills aimed at curbing rape on college campuses

The author is a nationally syndicated journalist and adjunct faculty member for the Rancho Santiago Community College District.

Last year the president signed the third reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The act provides increased funding to help in the treatment and protection of rape victims as well as providing funds for rape sensitivity training to police. The desire to end rape culture has become a hallmark of the Obama administration.

Now senators and members of the House of Representatives are contributing to the cause with multiple new bills being constructed and pushed through to help in the treatment and protection of rape victims. A bipartisan effort is being made to finally hold schools responsible for covering up or mishandling rape cases.

The White House Council of Women and Girls and the Office of the Vice President conducted a study and found that approximately 1 in 5 women has been raped while in college. In the study, 63 percent of men who admitted to rape said they have committed the crime an average of six times each. One can infer from this that perpetrators of rape are not being properly dealt with and are consequently having multiple opportunities to rape again. There are many causes for the lack of suitable prosecution and rehabilitation of rapists.

The majority of rape cases go unreported and the majority of those reported do not lead to prosecutions. This further inhibits victims from reporting their assaults. Studies show that, despite sensitivity training, police still tend to exhibit biases toward rape victims, believing their stories to be false, overexaggerated or provoked. This leads to further emotional victimization of those who report being sexually violated. Prosecutors often are reluctant to take on rape cases, and rape kits, a valuable tool in the prosecution process, often remain untested.

The collegiate environment encourages rape by lowering the legal and ethical threshold for responding to such cases. A campus’ reputation can be severely damaged by the publication of rape on campus; this can lead to dropping application rates and decreased funding to the school. This gives an incentive for schools to not only ignore allegations of rape, but also to actively cover up suspected rape cases. If all bodes well for the bills, soon schools will have to do more to combat this crime. Hopefully this will begin to curb the trend of rape on college campuses, so that schools can return to being places of learning as opposed to places where women are made to feel unsafe.