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Our View – Today is the day for CSULB community to ‘Take Back the Night’

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There are many assumptions that a short dress is a proposition or an invitation for a man to aggressively come on to a woman. Please!

Blaming a woman’s choice of clothing as a reason to commit sexual assault is like questioning why she left the house in the first place. Such lame excuses only tend to invoke silence and instill a false sense of guilt in the victim.

In 1998, an Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction, citing that the female victim was wearing blue jeans when she was brutally attacked.

The court’s reasoning was that, because the woman was wearing jeans, her attacker would have needed her help removing them.

The ruling, which openly blamed the victim for her own rape, caused an international feminist backlash.

The annual program on Cal State Long Beach’s campus, Take Back the Night (sponsored by the Feminist Organization Reclaiming Consciousness and Equality), is devoted to creating a greater societal awareness of rape, incest and other forms of sexual criminality.

We at the Daily Forty-Niner intensely support the proactive quest by our community and F.O.R.C.E. – in conjunction with the Sexual Assault Crisis Agency – to dispel the myths related to sex crimes.

Since its inception in 1976, the event has focused on the daily occurrence of violence against women and breaking the silence on many of these typically unreported crimes. The FBI estimates that a woman is raped in the U.S. every eight minutes.

Sex crimes are frequently considered “women’s issues” and not regarded as what they really are: a universal human rights issue. From rape to sexual harassment, violence against women is an international problem that is not gender-specific and calling it so continues our social denial.

Silence about rape or domestic abuse creates social taboos. Take Back the Night brings everyday suffering and trauma out of the dark, as well as being an evening devoted to group and personal catharsis.

SACA’s Clothesline Project displays support for victims of assault by hanging colored T-shirts to represent various types of abuse. Survivors, victims still healing and supporters dedicated to remembering the lives that have been lost to sexual crimes, decorate T-shirts with scrawled messages.

The literal interpretation of the word “night” gives the impression that sexual assault only happens during dark hours. Although sexual assault occurs more at night, TBTN allows survivors to offer their personal interpretations. TBTN tries to address society’s misunderstandings about sexual violence and questions what is considered “safe.”

For example, how many times will it be implied that a victim should not have been out at “that time,” or that it was her fault because she shouldn’t have been out alone? These are more excuses used to blame the victims for stranger rape.

In fact, 73 percent of rape victims know their assailant and college-age women are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Among the most underreported crimes are date rapes.

Tonight’s march through campus will be book-ended by a rally and a ceremonial fire on the Puvungna sacred ceremonial grounds, where stories of survival and personal experience will be shared.

The ceremonial fire is a unique combination of feminism and CSULB’s connection to the Native American land we students are fortunate to use.

Combining TBTN and Puvungna’s ceremonial fire also highlights the disturbing statistics of sexual assault on Native American women.

In 2007, Amnesty International reported that Native American women “suffer disproportionately high levels of rape and sexual violence.” The report explains that the problem is never fixed because the “federal government has created substantial barriers to accessing justice.”

Nationally, the number of rapes and sexual assaults reported are as low as 39 percent and the number of assailants actually convicted is as low as 16.3 percent, according to RAINN.

It’s time to address sexual violence as an international problem and stop accepting feeble excuses that blame the victims.

Only then can we truly take back the night.

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1250 Bellflower Blvd. Long Beach, CA 90840 -- LA-4 201  --  (562) 985-8000.
Our View – Today is the day for CSULB community to ‘Take Back the Night’