With more and more cases of sexual assault making headlines every day, it’s become clear that violence against women is socially endemic. According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, (RAINN), “Every 2 minutes, another American is sexually assaulted,” a statistic that equates to a staggering 237,868 victims of sexual assault annually. With so many cases of college campus sexual assault garnering national attention, it may come as no surprise that 44% of victims are under the age of 18, and 80% are under the age of 30.
Earlier this month, President Obama announced the “It’s on Us” campaign, a nationwide public service campaign that urges young people in particular to do more to prevent sexual violence on college campuses. Obama spoke about the gravity and prominence of sexual violence in our nation. “From sports leagues to pop culture to politics, our society does not sufficiently value women,” Obama said. “We still don’t condemn sexual assault as loudly as we should.”
According to the campaign’s website, these four statements outline the campaign:
“It’s on us to recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault.
It’s on us to identify situations in which sexual assault may occur.
It’s on us to intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.
It’s on us to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.”
A powerful 30 second PSA has been released featuring famous faces including Kerry Washington, Kevin Love, Questlove, Jon Hamm, and others. Officials stated that these celebrities were chosen because they are believed to be influential to the millennial generation. The Big Ten Conference, NCAA, MTV, EA, and Tumblr are among the 40 notable partners of the campaign.
Obama also acknowledged recent instances, which many are interpreting to be the recent NFL domestic violence scandals. “We’ve been working on campus sexual assault for several years, but the issue of violence against women is now in the news every day,” Obama said. “We’re getting a better picture of what domestic violence is all about. People are talking about it. Victims are realizing they are not alone.”
While one major critique of the campaign is that it doesn’t put enough of the onus on individuals who are committing these crimes, it is certainly a step in the right direction by contributing to the ongoing national discourse about sexual violence. To learn more about the campaign and take the pledge, visit the website at itsonus.org