• Living
  • Sexual Assault

Gloria Allred: The Battle Over Sexual Assault is the ‘Civil Rights Movement of Our Time’

3 minute read

Gloria Allred is a feminist lawyer and partner in the Los Angeles Law Firm of Allred, Maroko & Goldberg. She is well known for representing victims in women’s rights, sexual harassment, and Title IX cases.

The battle to end sexual assault on college campuses is one of the most important civil rights movements of our time. It is a movement for change. It is exciting and inspiring to see young women stand up and say “we know that we have rights, and we intend to assert them.”

Some say “the women’s movement is all about older women,” but this is a movement about younger women asserting their rights that women before them fought for and won. We worked to win that change in order to protect our daughters and granddaughters from sexual violence on college campuses. Title IX guarantees equal educational opportunity. It was signed into law for their benefit and for their protection. The young women at institutions of higher learning understand that they need to continue this battle. They need to stand up, assert and vindicate their rights.

It is not easy. They have been victims of rape and sexual assault. They are disappointed and angry that their colleges have failed them. They are committed to doing something about it. I am inspired by their courage.

The real issue is that universities and colleges are failing to comply with their legal duties to prevent violence on campus and to afford rights and protections to victims after they report these sexual assaults against them. Unless there are appropriate economic sanctions against colleges and universities which violate Title IX and the Clery Act, there will be no significant change. Universities need to know that their funding is at stake and that they could face lawsuits if they refuse to comply with the law and protect their students.

Victims should consult a lawyer with expertise in handling this type of case, so that they may learn their legal options including their right to be compensated by the college for the college’s failure to protect them and for violating their legal rights under Title IX. With knowledge of their legal rights, victims can then make an informed decision as to whether or not they wish to assert their rights. Where appropriate, victims can also file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education.

I think these young women exemplify the mantra from Ghandi, which is “we must be the change we wish to see in the world,” and that’s why I love working with them and representing them.

(You can read more opinions in TIME’s special report: Ending Campus Sexual Assault and get the full story in this week’s cover article by Eliza Gray: The Sexual Assault Crisis on American Campuses.)

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com