Consent matters, clothes don’t
Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is a month dedicated to raising awareness and prevention of sexual assault. Too often, this comes in the form of warning potential victims to dress more modestly and not leave their houses alone at night. That isn’t cutting it anymore.
Focusing on victims and not predators has normalized sexual assault, a solution to this is to stop rape and hold rapists accountable.
Teaching children autonomy, or consent is a way to prevent sexual assault. If a child does not feel comfortable giving or receiving physical affection allow them to reject it from family members and friends. This allows children to learn consent, lay boundaries and feel comfortable with saying no. Another way is to keep predators out of your child’s home.
Young girls are taught to put on sweats, longer shorts and bigger t-shirts simply because there is a male guest coming over. Instead of telling children to change, keep predators out of your child’s life.
Consent and boundaries play a big role in prevention. Stop inappropriate behavior before it becomes sexual assault. Consent is not only yes or no, but the level of comfort with different sexual interactions.
Consent can be taken away at any moment and must be freely given and informed. It’s not always that easy. Catcalling, sexual harassment and unwanted contact or touching shouldn’t be permitted. People shouldn’t have to worry about being approached when walking on the street, at the grocery store, at the gym or any other public place.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women experience completed or attempted rape in their lifetime and “about half (51.1%) of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance.”
During Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it’s common to see statistics of how many women are sexually assaulted, but we never see statistics showing how many men are rapists.
Exposing the number of perpetrators should light a fire under the government in order to make a change.
World Population Reviews report states that an estimated 9% of rapists are prosecuted, 3% serve jail time and 97% of rapists walk free. That’s an unacceptably high percentage.
All year, victims are told not to wear short skirts, drink excessively, walk alone, have a “flirty” behavior, a “promiscuous” past, or be alone during nighttime; yet, the only cause of rape is rapists.
Instead of focusing on sexual assault for a month, it should be a year-round focus aimed at stopping sexual assault altogether. Let’s move from awareness to action. Help put an end to sexual assault.