Did you know that up until recently there was a five year statute of limitations on a rapist in New York State? Until 2006 charges of rape had to be reported within five years or there could be no prosecution. This was one of the many facts that I learned about rape at a recent Pace University lecture. I was fortunate enough to attend a National Organization for Women panel discussion on the subject of rape last Wednesday and my eyes were opened. The lecture was made up of five guest speakers including NOW NYC chapter president, Jane Manning. Over the course of about an hour and a half five distinct scholars on the subject enlightened the room with their knowledge. The five speakers also gave their opinions on what needs to be challenged and what changes need to be made in order for the world to be safer for women and men who suffer or have suffered from rape and sexual harrassment.
Helen Benedict, author and scholar on the topic spoke about the eight different factors that influence the public to decide whether a rape victim is declared a "virgin" or a "vamp." Next, we heard from Karen Carroll, a forensic nurse who stressed the importance of lay terms when helping rape victims, especially in the ER right after the crime has been committed. Carroll also spoke about the difficulty of the justice and court system when it comes to prosecuting rape cases. She told the audience how rape is a legal term, not a medical one and insisted that women and rape advocates "make the noise" when it comes to assault, rape and injustice.
Founder and Executive Director of The Line campaign, Nancy Schwartzman emphasized the importance of knowing one's boundaries and communicating them to their partner when it comes to sexual encounters. She mentioned how women are still punished for being sexual beings and stressed the point that alcohol and consent do not mix, especially on college campuses.
John Stoltenberg brought a male's perspective on the topic. As a long time activist on sexual assault he pointed out how our generation must raise our boys to believe that their power and strength is for good, not for hurting. He was a consultant at a D.C. Rape Crisis Center and he talked about his experience dealing with rape and sexual assault in the U.S. military.
To conclude the discussion, Jane Manning communicated the importance of supporting pro-women candidates at the polls as well as understanding your rights and the laws in order to help bring about change.
The last portion of the program was dedicated to the questions and thoughts of the audience members, and there were plenty. I thought NOW did a great job of bringing together so so many topics that apply to rape. Anyone could relate to what the panelists had to say and together they brought an iformative, encompassing discussion and view on the topic of rape. The weight of the talk was punctuated by humourous moments but all-in-all it was a great lesson about the a serious subject that affects all men and women.
Sources: Google images Laws
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