On CNN, survivor advocate calls Secretary DeVos' announcement on campus sexual assault "dangerous"

On CNN, survivor advocate calls Secretary DeVos' announcement on campus sexual assault "dangerous"

Clark: "Her announcement yesterday sends a very clear leadership signal from this administration to survivors that they don't have their backs"


From the September 8 edition of CNN's New Day:

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ALISYN CAMEROTA (HOST): What did you think when you heard Secretary [of Educaton Betsy] DeVos wanted to revisit some of this and look at how universities are addressing the issue of sexual assault?

ANNIE CLARK: I think it's very dangerous. Some of the rhetoric that she was using yesterday sends a very clear message that she want to the send us back in time to a time where survivors were blamed and still are. And, I think, we have every right to be concerned, and Secretary DeVos has said she would like to listen to survivors and survivor advocacy groups, yet her announcement, the very constituencies that it affected the most were not even invited into the room with her. So, we have been given very little indication that we can trust her moving forward in this process.

CAMEROTA: OK, so you heard it the way so many survivors heard it, which is that she wanted to turn the attention to the accused to -- generally young men -- who are accused, sometimes falsely accused, of sexual assault. Now, the interesting thing is, yes, there are occasionally false reports, and that turns the accused's life into a nightmare. For sure. However, there are all sorts of statistics that show that is extremely rare. The FBI says it's something like between 2 and 8 percent of all sexual assault reports are false. So roughly 5 percent of them are false reports. The vast majority are real and usually, as you well know, sexual assault victims and survivors generally don't come forward. So what will it mean if there's now more of a focus on looking at the accused?

CLARK: Right. Under-reporting, like you said, is a huge problem and I think her announcement yesterday sends a very clear leadership signal from this administration to survivors that they don't have their backs. That they are more focused on this tiny percent of false accusations, which, as you mentioned, do not happen often, and yet they're treating this as a 50-50 issue. The amount of time focused on this, both from this administration and, in some cases, in the media is just serving to perpetuate this rape myth. And it's, quite frankly, irresponsible of her.

CAMEROTA: Let me just pull up, I mean just to prove your point, let me just show our viewers some real stats. This is from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, just puts it in stark relief, the numbers here. So, 1 in 5 women, we hear this over and over again, and 1 in 16 men, by the way, are sexually assaulted while in college. I mean, that's a staggering number on its own. More than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses don't report the assault because they're afraid that they'll, obviously, they'll be humiliated, they'll be ashamed, or it just won't work in their favor, as we know. Rape is the most under-reported crime. 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Annie, I know that you met with Secretary DeVos in July, and so, did you try to impress any of this on her? What were your impressions?

CLARK: So, our organization, End Rape on Campus, met with a contingency of other organizations, and basically she said she wanted to listen to survivor stories. She listened, but I'm not sure if she heard us, because the language she was using shows us that she has a fundamental misunderstanding of the survivor experience. And if she were to actually take into account some of what was said in that meeting, that announcement would have been very different yesterday.


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Posted In
Education, Sexual Harassment & Sexual Assault
Alisyn Camerota, Betsy DeVos
New Day
Sexual assault
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