TIME Sexual Assault

3 Apps That Will Help Women Stay Safe on Campus

Circle 6

It’s back-to-school time for college students. Yet with all of the stresses of college life piling on — class, extracurricular activities, internships and active social schedules — most students aren’t thinking about how to protect themselves from sexual assault, even though they’re at a greater risk. That’s why the first six weeks of school, when freshmen are getting acclimated with campus life, including partying and being away from home for the first time, is often called the “Red Zone.”

And even as institutions — often with the help of the federal governmentroll out regulations aimed at combatting the issue of sexual assault on campus, a lot of power still rests in the hands of students. But thanks to the following apps, that power can be supported by technology and smartphone applications.

Though they aren’t perfect — because let’s face it, applications alone likely will not prevent terrible things from happening — the following tools were clearly created with modern women in mind.

Circle of 6

Circle of 6 can be a young person’s first line of defense against an assault. The application — one of two winners of 2011 White House challenge — allows users to let a select group of people know they are in trouble so they can get help right away, whether they need advice on health relationships, a ride home or a call to interrupt a risky situation. Through the application, users can even send directions to their exact location to provide for a seamless pick up. The application can also connect users to hotlines and emergency numbers if they’re ever in a bind. This application is likely best used if and when a person feels like he or she is heading into a risky situation— although it’s easy to use, who knows how much time you’ll have to access your phone if and when things go awry. The application is free and available on both iPhone and Android devices.

Bsafe

BSafe isn’t just an application: this all-in-one safety tool essentially creates a community of people working together to keep each other safe. It allows any user to have a group of guardians tagging along with them everywhere they go. It’s all encompassing, too. From the application you can share your location with friends, activate a fake phone call to break up an awkward (or potentially dangerous) moment and send alerts to your safety network if you need immediate assistance. It even has a flashlight. Bsafe is a free application available for both iPhone and Android devices.

Kitestring

Kitestring is probably the most practical tool for young women, though using it will require some advance planning. It’s not an application, but a web-based tool that you set to check-in on you over a certain period of time. Walking home alone from a bar? Meeting a new guy for the first time? Go online, tell Kitestring how long you’re going to be out (or how often you want to be checked up on) and the site will text you to make sure you’re safe. If you don’t respond in a timely manner, an alert is sent to your designated emergency contacts letting them know to reach out. Kitestring is available here; sign up is free, but free users can only designate one emergency contact and are only allowed to activate the service eight times per month. Unlimited usage is $3 per month.

 

 

 

 

TIME NFL

NFL Cracks Down on Domestic Violence After Criticism

2014 NFL Draft
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. Elsa—Getty Images

Six-game suspension for a first offense, lifetime ban for a second

The NFL said Thursday that it would impose stricter penalties on players and any other league personnel who commit domestic abuse, following fierce criticism of a two-game suspension it handed down to a player who allegedly beat his fiancée.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made the announcement in a letter to team owners, saying that anyone in the league who violates its Personal Conduct Policy regarding assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault will face a six-game suspension for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second offense. And he alluded to the outrage that followed the two-game suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who had been indicted for allegedly hitting his now wife so hard that he knocked her unconscious.

“Whether in the context of workplace conduct, advancing policies of diversity and inclusion, or promoting professionalism in all we do, our mission has been to create and sustain model workplaces filled with people of character,” Goodell wrote. “Although the NFL is celebrated for what happens on the field, we must be equally vigilant in what we do off the field.

“At times, however, and despite our best efforts, we fall short of our goals,” he continued. “We clearly did so in response to a recent incident of domestic violence. We allowed our standards to fall below where they should be and lost an important opportunity to emphasize our strong stance on a critical issue and the effective programs we have in place. My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.”

The NFL suspended Rice last month for two games. A video posted online appeared to show Rice dragging his unconscious then fiancée out of an elevator in an Atlantic City casino after the alleged incident.

In the letter, Goodell also announced a series of education and training for players and all NFL personnel, additional support for educational programs in schools and youth football programs, and a campaign to raise awareness about sexual assault and prevention.

“Domestic violence and sexual assault are wrong,” read a memo to all NFL personnel that was included in the letter. “They are illegal. They are never acceptable and have no place in the NFL under any circumstances.”

The NFL Players Association reacted cautiously to the change Thursday.

“We were informed today of the NFL’s decision to increase penalties on domestic violence offenders under the Personal Conduct Policy for all NFL employees,” the players’ union said in a statement. “As we do in all disciplinary matters, if we believe that players’ due process rights are infringed upon during the course of discipline, we will assert and defend our members’ rights.”

TIME feminism

I Shouldn’t Have to Dip My Nails In a Drink to Reduce My Risk of Rape

102757479
Tetra Images—Getty Images/Tetra images RF

There's a lost opportunity every time we make girls and women individually responsible for avoiding rape

Every few months, a new product to help women avoid rape hits the market. This week’s is an innovative new nail polish that can identify the presence of drugs when dipped in a drink.

Considering that conservative estimates put the percentage of American women who’ve suffered sexual assault between 20%-25%, there’s huge market potential for this product. Of course, there is the fact that roofies, a nickname derived from the sedative Rohypnol, are less commonly used by serial predators than alcohol itself. A 2007 National Institute of Justice study found that only 2.4% of sexually assaulted female undergraduates were either certain or thought that they’d been drugged. On the other hand, studies conducted on college campuses show that alcohol is involved in anywhere between 50%-90% of sexual assaults. It is the weapon of choice, as expert David Lisak puts it.

I don’t want to dip my nails into a drink. Or stop wearing my hair in a ponytail. Or start wearing hairy tights. Before I die, I’d like to not have to ask a man to walk me home at night. Cool new nail polish is just the latest in way for us to adapt to rape.

From the moment we are born, girls are told to change: change our clothes, our hair, our belt buckles, our underwear, our walks, our commutes, our friends, even our vaginas.

At the same time, the topic of avoiding rape for men is usually just a bad joke. What do men do if they want to avoid rape? “Stay out of jail.” The sick irony of this joke is that it’s true. In reality, the only place where male adults in the U.S. come close to facing the same level of risk for rape as women is in jail. Even then, women inmates face twice the risk. But that bad joke perpetuates a rape myth. Most men who have experienced rape, reported at 1 out of 71, are assaulted as boys. But what does it say that women’s day-to-day reality of “staying safe” is thought to be comparable to the plight of men in jail?

Despite everything we are trained to do, we can’t change the one thing that matters the most: the fact of our femaleness. The most highly ranked risk factor for being raped is being a female. Girls and young women below the age of 30 make up more than 80% of rape victims, regardless of what they wear, what they drink or where they walk. While women can and do rape boys, girls and women are raped by men in an overwhelming number of cases. (Men are also the primary offenders in the rape of boys.)

And yet, in the popular commodification of sexual assault, there are no deodorants rapists can wear that stain their armpits with indelible ink when they’re about to rape someone. Or binding underwear that makes it impossible for them to whip out a weaponized John Thomas. Or electrified jock straps.

According to the CDC, in the United States nearly one in five women reports having been raped or experiencing an attempted rape at some point. One in four suffer violence at the hands of an intimate partner. One in six women report being stalked. This level of violence is terrorism. Women and non-gender conforming people live with fear in ways that men, particularly those who present as straight men, find hard to fathom. Women have heightened awareness of stranger dangers related to sexual assault, even though the chances they are assaulted by an acquaintance or partner are higher. Women change their lives, at great cost, because of threats to their physical safety that are largely tied to the fear of rape.

Every time we focus on making girls and women individually responsible for avoiding rape, we lose the opportunity to address the systemic root problem that our mainstream culture grows rapists like weeds. Despite my snark, I do understand the need to balance safety with change. I don’t doubt the good intentions of the inventors of these products, but their true value resides less in their questionable efficacy than in the fact that young men like the creators of this one are engaged in confronting rape culture. However, each and every instance of “how to avoid rape” that media takes up is one less instance of explaining rape and reducing its pervasive threat.

Soraya Chemaly is a media critic and feminist writer whose work focuses on the role of gender and sexualized violence in culture, politics, religion and free speech. You can find her at @schemaly.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: August 14

1. Born of the war on terror, militarized civilian police forces have impacted civil rights and citizens’ lives.

By Alex Kane at BillMoyers.com

2. Turkey is finally in a position to carry some weight in Iraq – if President Erdogan keeps his promises.

By Josh Walker in War on the Rocks

3. A new bill forcing schools to collect and share hard data on sexual assault can reveal the scale and shed much-needed light on this epidemic.

By Anna Bahr in the Upshot

4. Summer jobs for American youth will soon be a thing of the past. So will the work ethic and skills training that summer jobs once ensured.

By Ben Cassleman in FiveThirtyEight

5. It may seem like the world is tearing itself apart, but when peacekeepers can be deployed to troublespots, their track record is very good.

By Roland Paris in Political Violence at a Glance

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME feminism

Stop Fem-Splaining: What ‘Women Against Feminism’ Gets Right

Young woman using laptop on bed
Getty Images

The charge that feminism stereotypes men as predators while reducing women to helpless victims certainly doesn’t apply to all feminists — but it’s a reasonably fair description of a large, influential, highly visible segment of modern feminism

The latest skirmish on the gender battlefield is “Women Against Feminism”: women and girls taking to social media to declare that they don’t need or want feminism, usually via photos of themselves with handwritten placards. The feminist reaction has ranged from mockery to dismay to somewhat patronizing (or should that be “matronizing”?) lectures on why these dissidents are wrong. But, while the anti-feminist rebellion has its eye-rolling moments, it raises valid questions about the state of Western feminism in the 21st century — questions that must be addressed if we are to continue making progress toward real gender equality.

Female anti-feminism is nothing new. In the 19th century, plenty of women were hostile to the women’s movement and to women who pursued nontraditional paths. In the 1970s, Marabel Morgan’s regressive manifesto The Total Woman was a top best seller, and Phyllis Schlafly led opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment. But such anti-feminism was invariably about defending women’s traditional roles. Some of today’s “women against feminism” fit that mold: they feel that feminism demeans stay-at-home mothers, or that being a “true woman” means loving to cook and clean for your man. Many others, however, say they repudiate feminism even though — indeed, because — they support equality and female empowerment:

“I don’t need feminism because I believe in equality, not entitlements and supremacy.”

“I don’t need feminism because it reinforces the men as agents/women as victims dichotomy.”

“I do not need modern feminism because it has become confused with misandry which is as bad as misogyny, and whatever I want to do or be in life, I will become through my own hard work.”

Or, more than once: “I don’t need feminism because egalitarianism is better!”

Again and again, the dissenters say that feminism belittles and demonizes men, treating them as presumptive rapists while encouraging women to see themselves as victims. “I am not a victim” and “I can take responsibility for my actions” are recurring themes. Many also challenge the notion that American women in the 21st century are “oppressed,” defiantly asserting that “the patriarchy doesn’t exist” and “there is no rape culture.”

One common response from feminists is to say that Women Against Feminism “don’t understand what feminism is” and to invoke its dictionary definition: “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” The new anti-feminists have a rejoinder for that, too: they’re judging modern feminism by its actions, not by the book. And here, they have a point.

Consider the #YesAllWomen Twitter hashtag, dubbed by one blogger “the Arab Spring of 21st century feminism.” Created in response to Elliot Rodger’s deadly shooting spree in Isla Vista, Calif. — and to reminders that “not all men” are violent misogynists — the tag was a relentless catalog of female victimization by male terrorism and abuse. Some of its most popular tweets seemed to literally dehumanize men, comparing them to sharks or M&M candies of which 10% are poisoned.

Consider assertions that men as a group must be taught “not to rape,” or that to accord the presumption of innocence to a man accused of sexual violence against a woman or girl is to be complicit in “rape culture.” Consider that last year, when an Ohio University student made a rape complaint after getting caught on video engaging in a drunken public sex act, she was championed by campus activists and at least one prominent feminist blogger — but a grand jury declined to hand down charges after reviewing the video of the incident and evidence that both students were inebriated.

Consider that a prominent British feminist writer, Laurie Penny, decries the notion that feminists should avoid such generalizations as “men oppress women”; in her view, all men are steeped in a woman-hating culture and “even the sweetest, gentlest man” benefits from women’s oppression. Consider, too, that an extended quote from Penny’s column was reposted by a mainstream reproductive-rights group and shared by nearly 84,000 Tumblr users in six months.

Sure, some Women Against Feminism claims are caricatures based on fringe views — for instance, that feminism mandates hairy armpits, or that feminists regard all heterosexual intercourse as rape. On the other hand, the charge that feminism stereotypes men as predators while reducing women to helpless victims certainly doesn’t apply to all feminists — but it’s a reasonably fair description of a large, influential, highly visible segment of modern feminism.

Are Women Against Feminism ignorant and naive to insist they are not oppressed? Perhaps some are too giddy with youthful optimism. But they make a strong argument that a “patriarchy” that lets women vote, work, attend college, get divorced, run for political office and own businesses on the same terms as men isn’t quite living up to its label. They also raise valid questions about politicizing personal violence along gender lines; research shows that surprisingly high numbers of men may have been raped, sometimes by women.

For the most part, Women Against Feminism are quite willing to acknowledge and credit feminism’s past battles for women’s rights in the West, as well as the severe oppression women still suffer in many parts of the world. But they also say that modern Western feminism has become a divisive and sometimes hateful force, a movement that dramatically exaggerates female woes while ignoring men’s problems, stifles dissenting views, and dwells obsessively on men’s misbehavior and women’s personal wrongs. These are trends about which feminists have voiced alarm in the past — including the movement’s founding mother Betty Friedan, who tried in the 1970s to steer feminism from the path of what she called “sex/class warfare.” Friedan would have been aghast had she known that, 50 years after she began her battle, feminist energies were being spent on bashing men who commit the heinous crime of taking too much space on the subway.

Is there still a place in modern-day America for a gender-equality movement? I think so. Work-family balance remains a real and complicated challenge. And there are gender-based cultural biases and pressures that still exist — though, in 21st century Western countries, they almost certainly affect men as much as women. A true equality movement would be concerned with the needs and interests of both sexes. It would, for instance, advocate for all victims of domestic and sexual violence regardless of gender — and for fairness to those accused of these offenses. It would support both women and men as workers and as parents.

Should such a movement take back feminism — or, as the new egalitarians suggest, give up on the label altogether because of its inherent connotations of advocating for women only? I’m not sure what the answer is. But Women Against Feminism are asking the right questions. And they deserve to be heard, not harangued. As one of the group’s graphics says, “I have my own mind. Please stop fem-splaining it to me.”

Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine.

TIME Crime

Here’s What Happens When You Get a Rape Kit Exam

It takes a lot longer and is more invasive than you think

+ READ ARTICLE

Updated: July 22, 4:00 p.m.

Getting a rape kit collected is no picnic. The process can last up to four hours, and involves getting poked, prodded, swabbed and photographed in exactly the places a rape victim would have been violated in an attack.

“There’s a lot of myths about there, myths about prostitutes coming in to get free medical care, but this is a very invasive 2-4 hour plus exam,” says Kim Hurst, director of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner program in Detroit. “We’re doing pubic hair pulls or combs, we’re doing swabs of the outside of the genitalia… and then we’re doing a speculum exam [which is internal] and taking swabs that way, and if there was an anal assault we’re doing swabs there. And then we use a colposcope [a specialized medical camera] to take pictures of genital injury.”

The exam is usually performed in a hospital before the kit of evidence is turned over to the police for their investigation. The DNA from the kit and potential rapist is entered into CODIS, a national FBI database that helps law enforcement track serial offenders across the country.

But as TIME reported this week, thousands of rape kits across the country have been shelved and forgotten without being tested. According to a 2011 report from the National Institute of Justice, 18% of all unsolved rapes between 2002 and 2007 involved forensic evidence that had never been processed. In 2009, over 11,000 forgotten rape kits were discovered in a Detroit police warehouse, which means 11,000 potential victims went through the rape kit collection process, only to have the evidence discarded. Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy has been setting an example for how best to clear the backlog and prosecute the cold cases, but other cities could follow her lead; Phoenix has almost 3,000 backlogged kits, Dallas has over 4,000, and Memphis has over 12,000. That’s why the House of Representatives recently passed $41 million to test backlogged kits and investigate the cold cases.

“The bottom line, by testing these rape kits, we can identify serial rapists, put them behind bars, and bring the ultimate nightmare of the women raped to an end,” said Vice President Joe Biden when he asked Congress in March for the backlog funding in Obama’s 2015 budget. The bill has yet to pass the Senate.

Pick up this week’s issue of TIME to find out more on how investigators in Detroit are leading the way in clearing the rape kit backlog and getting victims overdue justice, or follow this link.

 

With special thanks to Monica Pombo and the Crime Victims Treatment Center at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s in Manhattan.

TIME Egypt

Egypt: 7 Jailed for Life for Public Sexual Assaults

Egyptian men sentenced to life in prison for sexual assaults on women during a number of public rallies in Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square, attend their trial at a court in Cairo, July 16, 2014.
Egyptian men sentenced to life in prison for sexual assaults on women during a number of public rallies in Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square, attend their trial at a court in Cairo, July 16, 2014. Aly Hazza—El Shorouk/AP

Three of the men received multiple life sentences as Egypt's new government cracks down on sex offenders

Correction appended 9:25am ET

A court in Egypt has sentenced seven men to life in prison for committing sexual assaults during protests in Tahrir Square, the Associated Press reports.

Three of the men received multiple life sentences for taking part in different assaults. These are the first heavy sentences against sexual abusers since Egypt’s new president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, vowed to toughen penalties in June.

The sentences stem from four separate incidents of sexual assault, including one that occurred during celebrations for Sisi’s inauguration.

This last assault may refer to an incident during the June 8 celebrations, when a video emerged showing a young woman being stripped naked and beaten by a crowd in Tahrir Square.

The timing of the brutal attack was particularly embarrassing given Sisi’s election promise to end the frequent assaults occurring in Tahrir Square.

The president vowed during his campaign to “restore the sense of shame” to sexual abusers. Before Sisi’s inauguration, the interim president Adly Mansour said physical and verbal sexual harassment was punishable by six-month to five-year prison sentences.

Egypt’s long-standing problems with sexual assault came into focus following the 2011 uprisings which ousted former president Hosni Mubarak. Though women protested shoulder to shoulder with men they were persistently subjected to sexual assaults during the mass protests in Tahrir Square. CBS News journalist Lara Logan was among the victims of assault in 2011.

The original version of this story, based on an Associated Press report, misstated the number of men sentenced. It was 7.

[AP]

TIME Education

More Than 60 Colleges Attend Dartmouth’s Sexual Assault Summit

Administrators face pressure to end the mishandling of assault investigations and put effective prevention measures in place

Dartmouth College President Philip Hanlon wants parents of women on his campus to know that the school is working to address the issue of sexual assault. During a hour-long conversation on New Hampshire Public Radio Tuesday, Hanlon said the school is “open” and “upfront.” “You should not be worried if a campus is talking about [sexual assault],” Hanlon said. “You should be worried if a campus is not talking about it.”

And Dartmouth is certainly talking about it. The school is hosting nearly 300 representatives from over 60 colleges, national experts, and government officials for a four day summit on preventing campus sexual assault, just days after a Congressional survey found that 41% of colleges polled have not investigated a sexual assault on their campuses in the past five years.

The Department of Education also launched investigations into 55 schools across the country this year, including Dartmouth, for allegedly mishandling of incidents involving an assault. This week’s summit is an opportunity for school and government officials to discuss best practices for addressing the issue, with representatives from Duke University, Rice University, Pomona College and Georgetown University on hand to discuss interactions between students and school administrators.

Hanlon said Tuesday that Dartmouth intends to position itself as a national leader in the effort to combat sexual assault on campus. He’s been in office for one year and named the issue one of his top priorities. In June, the college implemented a new policy for handling reports of sexual assault that requires outside investigators to look into complaints The policy also requires mandatory expulsion for some perpetrators of assault.

“As a nation we will reach a tipping point where nonconsensual sexual encounters on our college campuses are a thing of the past,” U.S. Representative Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH) said Sunday at an opening session of the summit. Research has shown that one in five college women will become a victim of an attempted or actual sexual assault while on campus. A TIME cover story from May detailed the crisis, which has been called an epidemic, and also examined the efforts to curb the trend.

On Monday, representatives from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice addressed the summit attendees affirming the federal government’s commitment to keeping student’s safe. “Every student needs to be safe,” said Catherine Lhamon of the Department of Education’s office of Civil Rights. Attendees have also been actively engaged on Twitter where conversations around the absence of males, student voices, and the need for more collaboration proliferated.

https://twitter.com/DartmouthChange/status/488760727008989184 https://twitter.com/DancingGrapes/status/488716002776322049

TIME Opinion

16-Year Old Gives Television Interview After Alleged Rape Photos Went Viral

Victim was mocked with #jadapose until supporters flooded the hashtag with encouragement and outrage

A 16-year old girl who says she was drugged and raped at a party spoke out on Houston local TV about how it felt to have images of her alleged assault circulated around social media.

While rape victims are are usually kept strictly anonymous, some survivors are beginning to speak out against their attackers, especially when the assault makes its way onto social media. Daisy Coleman, the Maryville teen who was viciously cyberbullied after she publicly accused a fellow high school student of raping her, was one of the first survivors to publicly identify herself, but others are following suit. Some victims have even taken to Twitter to publicly discuss their experiences with sexual assault.

“Anonymity has always been the default,” said Jennifer Marsh, VP of Victim Services at Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. “But in the cases we’ve seen recently—everything is already out there. Her face was out there. So at that point it’s a question of regaining control of the narrative of what happened to you.”

The Houston teen, identified only as Jada, said she went to a party with friends where the host gave her a drink she now believes was spiked with a drug. She passed out, and doesn’t remember anything from when she was unconscious. It wasn’t until Jada saw disturbing pictures and tweets on social media, that she believed she’d been raped. “Everybody knows,” Jada told KHOU 11. “And everybody’s texting me are you OK? You’re going to be OK, and I was like alright.” (TIME doesn’t usually identify rape victims, but we are making an exception in this instance because Jada wanted to come forward.)

It’s not immediately clear who originally tweeted the photos, because the photos have been mostly removed and some Twitter handles of people close to the incident have been de-activated. But the pictures soon went viral under the hashtag #jadapose, allegedly referring to the position of her body in the photographs. The alleged rapist was reportedly denouncing Jada and her story before his Twitter account was deactivated, including one tweet that said “HOW ITS RAPE? YOU HAD 2 MONTHS TO SAY SOMETHING BUT YOU AINT SAY [SH*T] TILL YOU GET EXPOSED?”

Other Twitter users followed suit, using the hashtag to mock Jada:

https://twitter.com/lowkeyitsmoe/status/486718561075724288/photo/1

The original photographs have since been reported and mostly removed and Jada’s supporters have started a Twitter backlash and used the hashtag in her defense.

And now she’s angry. “I had no control,” said Jada. “I didn’t tell anyone to take my clothes off and do what they did to me.”

The circumstances of Jada’s decision to come forward are truly horrific and no teenager should have to endure the double violation of a rape and then a social media maelstrom at her expense, and no victim should feel she has to identify herself in order to stop abuse. But maybe there’s a silver lining in this strategy for survivors. By coming forward, Jada traded her anonymity for a face and a voice, and with identity comes a certain kind of power.

 

 

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