Break the sexual assault stigma


Let’s talk about rape.

Sexual abuse is defined as any sexual activity involving a person who does not or cannot consent. It is happening to people of all ages and identifications. It is occurring to high school students, and this must be acknowledged.

We all know about Bill Cosby, who has been publicly accused by over 50 women of sexual assault. He was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault. However, he was never booked with a rape charge because of the issues we have with rape culture in America.

Ignoring rape is encouraged by our popular culture and social expectations–otherwise deemed ‘rape culture’–and can frequently be adopted by students. We must be aware that our actions have influence.

Sexual assault is an extremely serious issue that cannot be swept under the rug. Cosby was a serial rapist, just one example of the thousands that escape any consequences because of the stigma associated with rape culture.

About 200,000 rapes or sexual assaults are reported each year in the US. Only 16% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police, which means that there are likely 1.25 million cases of rape every year in the US.

Our response to sexual abuse should be one of integrity; it is our responsibility to act in a way that does not support inequality. All rape is rape, and no rape is acceptable.
Sexual assault is a hugely important issue that hits close to home for many ETHS students. Cat calls, sexual comments and innuendos and unwanted touching are all examples of sexual harassment that is not appropriate.

When students take health their sophomore year, what do teachers tell female students to yell when they are being assaulted? “Help! My Babies!” From a very early age students are taught that rape shouldn’t be discussed, and that victims of rape shouldn’t come forward.

Sexual assault is happening and we need to start talking about it immediately. The current system of investigating and simplifying allegations of sexual assault is broken. We need to do everything possible to ensure we have safe environments for learning and growth. It is time for us to break the stigma and not only start talking about rape, but institute a policy that treats sexual assault as the serious crime that it is.