New bill offers hope to assault victims on college campuses
January 29, 2014
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According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, less than five percent of completed or attempted rapes against college women are reported to law enforcement. That’s 95 percent of sexual violence going unnoticed and therefore, unpunished.
California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, hopes to change that by proposing an assembly bill (AB 1433) that would require colleges to report violent crimes (forcible rape, willful homicide, robbery or aggravated assault) and hate crimes to local law enforcement for investigation unless the victim requests otherwise, according to a press release from Gatto’s office.
Originally, Gatto’s proposed bill required campus police to report these crimes to local law enforcement regardless of the victim’s wishes, but after speaking to sexual assault survivor and UC Berkley Junior, Sofie Karasek, he amended the bill. Karasek told Gatto that if she knew that by reporting the crime to campus police the case would be transferred to local law enforcement, she never would have come forth to report it in the first place, according to an article in Newsweek.
A lot of the time, sexual assault survivors choose not to report the crime because they’re afraid of not being believed, fear reprisal, or simply don’t want to go through the long, tedious process of trial. It can be detrimental to the victims to have to relive details of the attack and most don’t feel comfortable opening up to prosecutors about their experience because it seems too personal to share, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
However, if the crimes aren’t passed on to the police department, often times the victims don’t see justice and the assaulters are able to victimize others. If this bill were passed, it would prevent future occurrences by not allowing the criminals to walk away without punishment and would dissuade other potential assaulters from committing the same crime.
According to Gatto’s website, a number of colleges in California were found to be allegedly discouraging victims from reporting their assaults in order to protect the reputation of the school. Now, multiple organizations and policymakers have taken notice and are stepping up to the plate in order to change things. This includes, not only Mike Gatto, but President Obama as well.
On Jan. 22, 2014, Obama signed a presidential memorandum creating a task force to protect students from sexual assault.
“To help them come up with better ways to protect and respond to sexual assault on their campuses, and then we’ll help them put those ideas into practice,” President Obama said in a press briefing at the Whitehouse, according to media reports.
The assembly bill Mike Gatto is proposing is only the beginning in a slew of action finally being enforced upon college campuses that fail to take these incursions seriously. Although we still have a long way to go in combating sexual assault, AB 1433 seems to be taking a step in the right direction.