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President Barack Obama met with senior advisers and cabinet officials Wednesday (Jan. 22) to address the problem of sexual assaults on college campuses.|
He wants colleges and universities to work harder at policing and preventing these attacks.
At a ceremony in the East Room, Obama created a special task force of senior administration officials to coordinate federal enforcement efforts against rape. He was surrounded by senior advisors on his White House Council of Women and Girls, which released a review of past and proposed future actions by the administration, titled “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Call to Action.”
The issues of rape and sexual assault are important to many women’s groups, which were crucial to the President’s election victories.
According to the report, many sexual assaults on campus occur at parties where victims are often “abused when they’re drunk, under the influence of drugs, passed out or otherwise incapacitated.” It also noted that attackers are often repeat offenders, citing a study that found of the 7 percent of male students who admitted to committing or attempting rape, two-thirds said they had done so multiple times–a shocking six times on average.
Most campus sex offenders are never arrested or prosecuted, the report said, because women rarely report the crimes, partly because of negative police attitudes toward the victims who file such complaints.
Obama gave the task force 90 days to come up with recommendations for how educational institutions might prevent and respond to sexual assaults. He also charged it with determining whether colleges are complying with existing legal obligations.
Obama also asked the task force for proposals to raise awareness of how different colleges view and respond to sexual assaults and to make sure federal agencies get involved when college officials fail to confront problems on their campuses.
The President said a priority was finding ways to encourage more males to intervene and report when they see an assault underway.
“I want every young man in America to feel some strong peer pressure in terms of how they are supposed to behave and treat women,” Obama said.
By Obama’s side was Vice President Joe Biden, who played an instrumental role 20 years ago in the passage of the Violence Against Women Act, which opened federal courts to victims of physical abuse and sexual assault. Last year, the President reauthorized and expanded the law.
“Our daughters, our sisters, our wives, our mothers, our grandmothers have every single right to expect to be free from violence and sexual abuse,” Biden said, adding, “Men have to take more responsibility. Men have to intervene. The measure of manhood is willingness to speak up and speak out, and begin to change the culture.” The State Column