Violence against women is a serious national health concern, which is why the campus community must continually seeks ways to participate in the fight against violence.
A recent study by the National Institute of Justice and the Center for Disease Control showed that in the United States there are 4.9 million intimate partner rapes and physical assaults on women each year from spouses, partners or dates.
Shocking statistics such as these illustrate that sexual crimes are a serious criminal justice and public health concern in our country.
Though these statistics may seem unreal to Iowans, they should not be ignored. Sophomore Angela Ryan, president of Sophia, says that violence against women is a real problem, even in the Midwest.
“These statistics are not solely from cities,” Ryan said. “This is a problem everywhere, and it cannot be solved until it is acknowledged.”
Junior Julie Jackson knows for a fact that crimes against women are a problem in Iowa. She is an intern for the State Attorney General’s Office and deals with cases about these crimes on a daily basis.
“My interest in the area has grown tremendously since I started this internship,” Jackson said. “In my opinion, the crimes of a sexual nature are some of the worst crimes you can commit. They physically, mentally and emotionally scar the victim for life.”
“The offender may serve their term, but for victims of sexual violence, it’s a life sentence,” Jackson said.
Because Jackson feels so strongly about this issue, she is using March, Women’s History Month, to raise awareness about violence against women.
“I’m planning a three-pronged approach this month,” Jackson said. “First, I will be collecting donations for the Family Violence Center.”
You may have seen these donation boxes around BSC, Smith Chapel and housing units this week. The shelter is asking for magazines, paper and pens to facilitate their counseling of women and children who have been victims of domestic violence.
Secondly, Jackson plans to raise money for the shelter by selling purple ribbons for domestic violence.
Finally, Jackson’s plan involves bringing speakers to campus for a forum event in a few weeks. These four speakers have varied careers that deal with women and crimes against them.
“We will have Sandy Smith, a volunteer coordinator from the shelter, Nancy Robertson from the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Abuse, Prosecutor Laura Roan from the State Attorney General’s Office, and a representative from the sexually violent predators program,” Jackson said.
The forum will be held as a panel discussion that will cover how the issue has impacted each of these people’s lives and gives ways that students can get involved. Because of a full March forum schedule, this forum is being set for early April.
This issue is not just a passing one for Jackson, but one she plans to address for the rest of her life.
“I want to prosecute crimes against women. Every time I read about a woman almost getting choked to death or raped, it further recommits me to the cause,” Jackson said.