Obama’s Rape Task Force
President Obama signed a new directive Jan. 22 forming a White House task force to deal with college sexual assault, outlined in a 33 page document released late last month entitled “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action.”
The report was compiled by the White House Council on Women and Girls. The task force was given 90 days to come up with recommendations and solutions that can be easily and quickly implemented at colleges across the country.
A study cited in the document revealed that only 12 percent of college assault victims report the crime and that one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped in their lifetime. The attacks are fueled by alcohol and drug use. These statistics inspired the renewed call to action.
“This is a priority for me not only as President and commander-in-chief, but as a husband and a father of two extraordinary girls,” Obama stated.
The report concluded that, “no one is more at risk of being raped or sexually assaulted than women at our nation’s colleges and universities.” Obama called on college presidents to take action and reform their systems of handling sexual assault cases. He also urged students to get involved and demand answers if they do not see a response from their college administrations.
In addition, Obama asked the task force to design a system were students could keep track of each schools’ record, so sexual assaults are not brushed under the rug. This allows federal agencies to keep a tally as well, and hold schools accountable if they do not confront the problem.
The task force critiques the criminal justice system in their report, saying that it needs to be quicker in responding, prosecuting, and processing rape kits. The report singles out bias and lack of training for a low number of conviction rates.
Colleges and universities are not the only area of interest for sexual assault reform; the report touches on high rape rates among females in the military, following Obama’s call to action at the Pentagon.
The report states “51 percent of female victims were raped by a current or former intimate partner, and 41 percent were raped by an acquaintance. Stranger rape, in contrast, accounts for 14 percent of the total. Of men and boys, 52 percent report being raped by an acquaintance and 15 percent by a stranger.”
The report also details the effects of sexual assault, highlights groups of people that are more likely to be assaulted, and talks about the economic consequences of a high number of assaults.