WPU Takes Back The Night

Jacob Martinez, Managing Editor

The majority of Americans believe society is the main culprit behind sexual misconduct, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center.

About 86 percent of women with a four-year college degree echo the results of the study claiming sexual harassment as a wide-spread issue in America.

On April 12, the Women’s Center, Women’s & Gender Studies and The Feminist Collective hosted the “Take Back the Night” rally in front of a sun-drenched Zanfino Plaza. More than 80 students and staff members attended the event, sharing songs, poems and personal experiences of sexual violence. Attendance for the event tripled since last year, reflecting the recent spotlight placed on sexual crimes. Participants of the rally marched around campus looking to disrupt classes the “same way sexual violence disrupts society.”

Despite a shared concern over sexual misconduct in today’s society, women are more likely to express their concern compared to men. From celebrities to politicians, women have raised their voices against the lack of support from their male counterparts.

In a March 2017 speech, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres claimed the world should consider women empowerment as a “key priority.” Coordinator of Campus Victim Services Theresa Bivaletz finds that more men are acknowledging the impact their presence makes during these times.

“More men are realizing that many of the women they know and love have been affected by this issue and are sometimes victims and survivors themselves,” said Bivaletz.

The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network reports that 1 out of every 10 rape victims is male. Within the military, where sexual misconduct is punishable by court-martial, the number of male rape victims increases dramatically. Every year, more than 10,000 men are sexually assaulted in the military, according to an article published by the Department of Defense. The article also states how 87 percent of military men do not report the assaults out of fear of losing respect from family, friends and peers. Women face a different level of threat as 59 percent of sexual perpetrators are acquaintances.

While sexual violence continues to scar millions of Americans every day, other countries face similar or worse issues. Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi has garnered criticism for his delayed remarks concerning the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl. The media is also heavily criticized for associating men with traits of dominance and violence while displaying women as sexual prizes. Others claim that a lack of personal responsibility is the real issue of sexual violence. A small percentage (28) of Americans believe individual misconduct drives incidents of sexual misconduct.

At the end of the rally, Bicvaletz called out to possible victims gathered at Zanfino Plaza to seek the available channels of support made available at WPU.

“You are not alone,” said Bivaletz. “The people that are here right now, standing to your right and left are here to support you.”

For more information regarding surviving sexual violence, visit The Women’s Center in room 313 located in the Student Center.