President Barack Obama is calling on everyone to do what they can to prevent others from being sexually assaulted as part of a new initiative.
The White House announced last week that it has launched the It’s On Us campaign, which is aimed at educating people about sexual assault—particularly on college campuses. While announcing his new plan, President Obama noted stats that say one in five women have been sexually in assaulted in college, but only 12 percent of those incidents are ever reported. Even more astonishing is that “only a fraction” of the attackers are punished for their actions.
If the president could pinpoint a cause for this it, the general lack of respect for women in American culture would be a huge root cause. Certainly the nation is more progressive about gender that it once was, but women still have to fight for equality.
“As far as we’ve come, the fact is that from sports leagues to pop culture to politics, our society still does not sufficiently value women,” he said during a press conference on Friday. “We still don’t condemn sexual assault as loudly as we should. We make excuses. We look the other way. The message that sends can have a chilling effect.”
Information is only half the battle here, though, so the Obama administration is also urging people to step in when they can to stop a potentially dangerous situation ASAP. He stated, “It is on all of us to reject the quiet tolerance of sexual assault and to refuse to accept what’s unacceptable.”
To get a little more power behind his new push, the president recruited Common, Kerry Washington, Questlove, and Jon Hamm among others for the It’s On Us campaign. On the more practical end of things the Obama administration announced that it’s sent out information on sexual assault to every school district and college-level institution that gets federal funding. The White House is also ensuring that victims are suitably protected under existing sexual assault laws.
Of course there are a few thing that you can do to contribute to President Obama’s efforts:
1) Speak Up
Have an open and honest discussion among your friends (men and women) about sexual assault. Spreading the word is very important. The main thing to remember is that if someone cannot consent to sexual contact, it is assault if not rape.
2) Step In
The Obama Administration suggests that you find a way to intervene if you see something suspicious. Keep an eye on people who you believe may be vulnerable and intoxicated. If you think you see something, step in. Whether that means calling their friends in to help, contacting the authorities, or creating a diversion to pull the assailant away from the victim, do that. Be sure that you can remain safe as well, though.
3) Don’t Judge
Do not blame the victim. It is not their fault that someone else has doesn’t respect other people’s boundaries