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DC Council Passes Landmark Sexual Assault Reforms PDF Print E-mail
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Press Releases
Written by DC Justice for Survivors Campaign   
Tuesday, 08 April 2014
April 8, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Renee Davidson
DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC)
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DC Council Passes Landmark Sexual Assault Reforms
Grassroots Survivors’ Group Celebrates Success After Year of Mobilizing

Washington, D.C. — The DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC) is elated that today DC Council took the first of two votes to pass the Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights Amendment Act of 2013 (SAVRAA), landmark legislation to improve how the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) handles sexual assault cases and treat survivors of sexual assault.

“This is a monumental step in both supporting survivors of sexual assault and improving DC’s sexual assault response system,” said Julia Strange, DC JSC organizer and Director of Programs and Policy for Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS). “This legislation means that those who report sexual assault in the District can expect that their cases will be followed through as efficiently as possible, and that they will be treated with fairness and respect,” added Sherelle Hessell-Gordon, DC JSC organizer and Executive Director of theDC Rape Crisis Center.

The final version of the bill passed by DC Council includes all criteria for which the DC JSC mobilized support. In full, the legislation: 1) Grants sexual assault survivors the right to have a sexual assault victim advocate present during hospital forensic exams and in subsequent in-person police interviews; 2) Mandates the prompt processing of rape kits; 3) Provides sexual assault survivors the right to the results of their rape kits and toxicology tests; 4) Mandates that an independent consultant make semi-annual public reports on progress that MPD makes in implementing reforms; 5) Codifies DC’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) and requires it to conduct case review; 6) Requires an annual report on sexual assault from agencies that handle cases and evidence; 7) Establishes a task force to recommend further reform to the system, including additional roles for advocates, an effective system for complaints and juvenile sexual assault system reforms.

The DC JSC, a survivor-led grassroots coalition, has been working for over a year not to only to pass, but also to strengthen SAVRAA.The coalition, formed by Collective Action for Safe Spaces, (CASS), the DC Rape Crisis Centerand DC NOW, was established in response to evidence of police mismanagement of sexual assault cases in the District. The DC JSC is comprised of 23 organizations and over 400 individual community members. Over the past months, DC JSC members consulted with policy experts, collected hundreds of signatures in support of SAVRRA’s urgently-needed reforms, met with DC Councilmembers and testified at the December 2013 DC Council Hearing on the legislation, including sharing heart wrenching stories of their experiences of reporting sexual assault to MPD.

“Passing legislation that codifies the rights of survivors of sexual assault sends a powerful message to survivors that our community leaders care about their rights and are working to protect them,” said Susan Mottet, DC JSC organizer and President of the National Organization for Women, DC Chapter (DC NOW). “This bill was a survivor-driven advocacy effort, and we thank the brave men and women who testified and shared their stories,” said DC JSC organizer Marisa Ferri. “We’re encouraged that the passage of SAVRAA, especially along with DC JSC’s amendments, will help ensure that survivors who report their assault can begin the process of healing and obtaining justice.”

The Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights Amendment Act will be voted on again and then passed onto the Mayor to be signed into law.

###

Formed by Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) and National Organization for Women, DC Chapter (DC NOW), the DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC) is a grassroots coalition of sexual assault survivors, direct service providers, advocacy organizations, allies and community members working to increase and codify the rights of and improve services for survivors of sexual assault in the District of Columbia.
 
Advocacy Builds and Restores (or You May Be Doing it Wrong) PDF Print E-mail
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Civil Liberties and Advocacy Efforts
Written by James Landrith   
Friday, 04 April 2014

Jenni Chiu, writing for The Huffington Post, on "Stop Making the Thin Girl Ugly":

 

 

I stumbled across a petition on Change.org started by a fellow blogger whom I happen to adore. I've met her. I've laughed with her. I've slept in the same hotel room with her. I find her intelligent and quite glorious.

 

I don't like her petition... though I may be in the minority.

 

The petition is to Francesca Bellettini, the CEO of Yves Saint Laurent with this request: "Do not use anorexic models in your advertisements anymore." She also wrote a blog post about it here.

 

My problem is that the petition was inspired by a photo of a thin model in an ad, and we don't know that this young woman is actually anorexic. Perhaps the genes she inherited, combined with her youth, keeps her rail thin. Isn't assuming all skinny girls are anorexic just as bad as assuming all bigger girls are lazy?

 

 

 

There is a sad and inexcusable tendency in social justice circles. Too often, activists are incapable of advocating for one group without intentionally (or not) tearing down or hurting another group. Inclusion does not require the moral and emotional bludgeoning of another group. Intentions matter, but so do the consequences of a particular advocacy effort. If you must hurt one innocent party to advocate for another party, then you don't understand the concept.
 
Read the rest here:
 

 

 
Keep Your Bags to Yourself (or You Aren't A Transit Ninja) PDF Print E-mail
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Rape, Sexual Assault and Abuse
Written by James Landrith   
Wednesday, 05 March 2014
There is a lot of talk about how men need to be aware of the space they take up in public.  Some men are unaware or outright act like entitled children. I don't dispute the need for such conversations.  SOME men DO need to hear that message. I've had a lot of huge, overstuffed backpacks smack me in the head while seated or been knocked back by some clueless commuter who isn't compensating for the space his big, stupid bag is occupying while hanging in the air behind him.

As an introvert, I am always aware of the real estate I occupy. I am present without being dominant. I don't require anything more to feed my intellect and self-worth. I don't need to control or dominate a situation or location. I don't feel the need to fill a room with noise and posturing. As a male rape survivor of a female predator, I am even more aware of my surroundings. That does not mean I am worried about what will happen. It means that I want to be left alone and not have to deal with unnecessary, ridiculous situations that may be triggering or cause a spike to my PTSD.

I've carried a messenger style bag to work since the early 1990's while still on active duty. It usually contains, pens, note pads, PDA, books, Nook, documents, my lunch or whatever. I don't swing it around like I'm in a sword fight. I don't try to take off people's heads while getting on or off the train. I don't expect it to have it's own seat while others stand. I put it on my lap when traveling and hang it on my shoulder, but swung in front of me so it is not in the way while people pass. I believe it is my responsibility to watch out for others and not their responsibility to jump and duck as we navigate public spaces. Call me crazy, but I think that is how rational, mature human beings should behave in public.

Today on the train ride home, the car was about two thirds full. That was comfortable enough for a ride from DC to Alexandria, Virginia and left plenty of room to breathe and keep a polite distance. I maintained about two feet between the young woman to my front and my own person. Throughout the jostling and turns this was just fine to ensure we both had sufficient space. A few stops later and my new friend Entitled Woman gets on and takes up position behind me. At this station, about the same amount of commuters embarked vs. disembarked. Plenty of room was left in the car and a sufficient number of handholds were available. There was no reason to crowd. This person decided that she needed to get right behind me, pushing and shoving her stupidly large bag in my backside, all the while leaning into me for several stops. Every time we got jostled, she would shove back into me and try to dominate space as if the train were overcrowded during rush hour. Meanwhile, there was space behind her and on her other side. I closed up some of the space between me and the young lady to my front in order get her out of my back. Entitled Woman saw this as an excuse to push in further and continue her attempt at Metro dominance. This went on for several miles and through many stations until a seat opened up and she sat her rude, entitled ass down.

Ugh.

As relevant as conversations about space and public courtesy are for men and boys, it has been my experience far too often that plenty of women need the same teachings. There are simple courtesies that just don't seem to be taught, whether it is something as simple as keeping a polite distance; not expecting that your purse, laptop case or bag deserves it's own seat; or keeping your elbows tucked in and to yourself while riding. I'm not going to even get into how many purses and backpacks I've taken to the side of the head over 20 years of riding the train. While the experience I outlined above was not the end of the world, it is very commonplace in the Metro and can be a problem for those of us who are wired a bit differently. I am completely understanding of crowded, densely packed trains during rush hours and inclement weather. I deal with that through simple acceptance of it being a temporary nuance that won't last long. That said, acting like an entitled asshat is not anyone's right where another person's bodily sovereignty is concerned. Flipping the genders in such interactions doesn't make it any more acceptable.

Is it really so hard to just respect EVERYONE?  Can we please stop pretending this a male only problem?  Truly, it isn't.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 05 March 2014 )
 
Mentioned by Committee to Protect Journalists Regarding Sexual Violence Advocacy PDF Print E-mail
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Rape, Sexual Assault and Abuse
Written by James Landrith   
Friday, 07 February 2014

So, um, the Committee to Protect Journalists has mentioned my advocacy work in their new edition of "Attacks on the Press, 2014 Edition: Journalism on the World's Front Lines."  The chapter on "Finding the Courage to Cover Sexual Violence" discusses media coverage of sexual violence, survivors and reporters who have faced such in the line of duty.

 

 


 

 

Apparently, they thought my advocacy on behalf of male survivors and exposure of female predators was noteworthy enough for a mention and referenced my CNN interview.

I've been mentioned in dozens of books before for my work with The Multiracial Activist and The Abolitionist Examiner, so I'm not new to getting cited or quoted.  This one is different though, as I actually got butterflies in my stomach reading it.  As an online publisher and freelancer, this one means a bit more to me.  The CPJ is an important organization with a needed mission.

 

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/attacks-on-the-press-2014-edition-committee-to-protect-journalists/1117305827?ean=9781118873083

 

 

Last Updated ( Friday, 07 February 2014 )
 
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