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Take Back the Night has become a presence at Indiana University of Pennsylvania strong enough to pull hundreds of students into the march through and around campus.
Part of a larger event held internationally since 1976, Take Back the Night allows people to speak out against sexual violence that occurs at all times of day, not just at night, and to express discontent with the treatment of victims of that violence.
According to a 2013 report titled “Female Victims of Sexual Violence, 1994- 2010” from the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, sexual violence against females decreased more than 60 percent between 1995 and 2010, but those numbers seem to undermine the current state of sexual violence in the United States.
About 20 million out of 112 million women, about 18 percent, in the United States have been raped in their lifetime, according to statistics on the National Sex Offender Public Website from the Justice Department. In another statistic from the same study, they reported that only 16 percent of all rapes were reported to law enforcement.
The struggle isn’t just to get the rapes reported to police; the police must then thoroughly investigate the claim.
While we, the IUP community, have positive police involvement in Take Back the Night, not all law enforcement in the U.S. and abroad are as supportive. The media has highlighted cases in the last few years that demonstrate a failure of the law enforcement to follow up on sexual assault cases.
One such case was recently reported on by The New York Times in an April 16 article titled “A Star Player Accused, and a Flawed Rape Investigation.”
It details the failure of the Tallahassee, Fla., police and Florida State University administrators to investigate claims from one student that she had been raped by who she thought may be FSU quarterback Jameis Winston, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy and lead his team to victory in the national championship the year he was accused.
“After the accuser identified Mr. Winston as her assailant, the police did not even attempt to interview him for nearly two weeks and never obtained his DNA,” the article says.
We should be glad to have police so involved in events like Take Back the Night in Indiana, and we should continue to work for change.