Sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes in the country. Humiliation, stigma, a cultural inclination to blame or question the victim, and more ensure that many survivors cannot turn to the systems which might bring them justice. The international group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has been studying major U.S. cities to learn whether police response has contributed to this low rate of reporting.
In January 2013, HRW released an investigative report on on the handling of cases of sexual assault by the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia. This report set in play a series of conversations and actions aimed at improving both the procedures involved in the handling of sexual assault cases and the behaviors of the officers involved. It also engendered disagreement as to the validity of the HRW findings, as well as to the validity of the police response. The DC Council requested a review of the investigation by Crowell & Moring, and then introduced the Sexual Assault Victim Rights Amendment Act of 2013.
The Sexual Violence Response and Prevention Council of the DC Rape Crisis Center (which is the State Sexual Violence Coalition of DC) convened a Legislation Project. Since the release of the legislation, groups such as Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), DC NOW and the DC Rape Crisis Center, alongside survivors and other concerned individuals, have worked tirelessly to craft key recommendations and to recruit a rich pool of witnesses to provide testimony to the Council.
Take Action: Show the DC Council that you care about survivors!
- Attend the DC Council hearing on Thursday, December 12, 2013, 11:00am, located in Room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW DC.
- Can’t attend Thursday’s hearing in person? Select “Room 412” and watch it live!
- Share your opinions with the DC Council; @councilofDC, and the Legislation Project; SVRPC@dcrcc.org
- Follow @SafespacesDC on Twitter and our SAVRA hashtag, #SurvivorRightsDC