The Trump administration’s recent decision to rescind President Obama’s federal guidance protecting trans students has been applauded by many conservatives who argue it guarantees the safety of women and girls.
For instance, last spring, after North Carolina suffered backlash for enacting HB2, a law preventing transgender students from using a bathroom that aligns with their gender identity, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said: “If our action in keeping men out of women’s bathrooms and showers protected the life of just one child or one woman from being molested or assaulted, then it was worth it.”
Putting aside the fact that there are no spikes in sex crimes when transgender people can pee where they want, there are in fact much more productive ways to curb the very real and pervasive issue of female sexual assault (something both Republicans and Democrats can agree on, huzzah!). Since the current administration seems so interested in the issue (could have been useful during the campaign, but it’s cool!), here are some ways local and federal government can get involved positively.
1) Investigate college campus rape
Women are at extremely high risk for sexual assault while they are in college. One in five will be a victim of sexual assault or rape at some point, and many, if not most, of these crimes on campus go unreported. In fact, a whopping 91 percent of college campuses reported zero sexual assaults in 2014.
2) Fight for appropriate sentences for rapists
During the 12 measly weeks that Brock Turner was in jail for sexually assaulting a woman behind a dumpster, an estimated 75,000 women were raped. And despite that astoundingly short sentence, at least he went to jail — many rapists never do. The judge’s reasoning for the abbreviated sentence? He claimed anything longer would have had a “severe impact” on Turner’s life (because being sexually assaulted doesn’t?). If the judicial system allocated appropriate sentences for sex crimes and we had fewer examples of rapists escaping sentences, it could encourage more women to report. In fact, when women see assault accusations be taken seriously, as was the case during the presidential election, it increases the calls to sexual assault hotlines.
3) Actually test rape kits
There are currently an estimated 400,000 untested rape kits across the country — that’s a backlog of evidence for thousands of rape and sexual assault cases collecting dust, as perpetrators go free. This problem, however, can be tackled. In 2015, the Department of Justice recognized the pressing nature of the issue and allocated $41 million to try to solve it.
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