Bipartisan Task Force On Sexual Violence Could Calm Some Fears About The Trump Era

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A group in Congress will announce the formation of a bipartisan task force on sexual violence this week at the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, something that will reassure advocacy groups who’ve worried about losing support in Washington since the election.

President Donald Trump issued a presidential proclamation marking April as sexual assault awareness month, continuing an 8-year tradition started by President Obama in 2009. But advocates say there’s no indication where Trump and Vice President Mike Pence stand on specific policies.

The White House hasn’t said if it intends to appoint an adviser on violence against women, a position in the vice president’s office created by Joe Biden in 2009. It’s also unclear whether the Trump administration will create a group like the White House Council on Women and Girls, which worked on sexual assault issues in the Obama years.

In Congress, about a dozen members are expected to join the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence. A press conference is planned Wednesday to formally announce the panel.

The task force is modeled after the one started two years ago in Congress to work on opioid addiction. Members say they intend to focus on addressing sexual violence in the military and on college campuses, rape kit backlogs, law enforcement training, cyber harassment and revenge porn, as well as whatever else pops up. It will be co-chaired by Democrats Jackie Speier of California and Ann Kuster of New Hampshire, and Republicans Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania and David Joyce of Ohio.

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