By Shannon Lynberg
Each year an estimated 1,735 women living in D.C. will be raped (U.S. Census Bureau's 2006 American Community Survey and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and according to the National Institute of Justice, 1 in 5 women will be raped during their lifetime. Thus, more than 61,000 of the 300,000 women living in D.C. will likely experience rape at some time during their lives.
The only person who can prevent a rape is the perpetrator. Yet, it is often the victim, usually a woman, who receives the blame for her sexual assault. Sexual assault victims are re-victimized when they are denied proper treatment and the justice they deserve.
In Washington, D.C. and across the United States rape victims have been reporting that they have been ignored by law enforcement officials, turned away by hospitals and denied the forensic medical exams (rape kits). These essential steps are required to confirm that a sexual assault took place and subsequently press charges against the attacker.
Due to systemic problems concerning how sexual assaults are handled and lack of media attention, it is impossible to know just how many women have not received the support and resources they deserve.
Beginning in 2009, new legislation will go into effect that will better protect the rights of sexual assault victims. However, many women are unaware of these laws. In an attempt to fight these injustices, YWTF created Stand Up for DC Women!
It is our hope that through this campaign, YWTF will educate the community on the legislation that protects the rights of sexual assault victims as well as what to do if your rights are denied.
Through collaborative partnerships and educational outreach, Stand Up for DC Women! will raise awareness about injustices in the treatment of sexual assault victims and ensure that they receive adequate care.
In January 2009, YWTF will begin distributing bi-lingual wallet sized cards that will explain the new legislation, victims' rights and what to do if your rights are denied. This information will also be made available on our website at www.ywtf.org.
This is a nationwide problem and upon successful completion in D.C. , the Stand Up for DC Women! model will be implemented in communities across the U.S.
If you are interested in learning more about Stand Up For DC Women!, email firstname.lastname@example.org.