Falk Speaks about the Epidemics of Rape on College Campuses and in the Military

Professor Patricia J. Falk

Professor Patricia J. Falk

On March 29, 2014, C|M|LAW Professor Patricia J. Falk presented Is VAWA Enough?:  The Epidemics of Rape on College Campuses and in the Military at a conference presented by Dusquesne Law School in Pittsburgh– The Violence Against Women Act and Its Impact on the U.S. Supreme Court and International Law.

Professor Falk explained that on January 22, 2014, President Barack Obama created a special task force to combat the epidemic of rape on college campuses.  She noted that the statistics are alarming:  one in five college women is either sexually assaulted or the victim of an attempted sexual assault during her college years, and only 10-12% of those who are sexually assaulted reported the attacks.  Less than a month earlier, in December of 2013, President Obama had issued a warning to the military – that it had to decrease the number of sexual assaults experienced by service members within one year.  The President stated that if improvement were not forthcoming, he would have to step in and take more aggressive measures himself.  The statistics are also alarming.  In Fiscal Year 2010, 19,000 service members were victims of sexual assault, and only about 14 percent of the victims reported the crime.  A recent VA study indicated that nearly one in four women sent to Iraq or Afghanistan reported being sexually assaulted.

Professor Falk indicated that within the past few months, the Obama administration had identified two specific sites in our society that are in urgent need of reform in terms of sexual assault.  In this talk, she explored whether these very different spaces have some things in common that make the crime of rape more likely to occur.  She asked whether, if we can understand the characteristics that make these spaces fertile ground for sexual assault (i.e., more rape-prone), we might be able to turn the tide on these epidemics and make progress toward their eradication.   In particular, she examined victims’ accounts, the juxtaposition of non-legal actors in decision making regarding the prosecution of rape, conflicts of interest in those to whom sexual assault is reported, motivated offenders and a surfeit of potential victims, the role of alcohol and drugs, and the current legal rules or systems.


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