Obama launches task force to fight campus sexual assault

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced the establishment of a task force that will help schools address and respond to sexual assault on students.

Obama described campus rape as a crime and said it is his priority to curb sexual violence against students as a father to two girls, referring to daughters Natasha and Malia.

The White House Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault is created under a memorandum Obama signed on Wednesday. The creation of the task force coincided with the release of a report from the White House Council on Women and Girls that one in five women is sexually assaulted while they attend college.

Throughout the country, nearly 22 million women and 1.6 million men have been raped in their lifetimes with early half of female victims raped before the age of 18 and over 25 percent of male victims raped before age 10, according to the report.

The report also said that only about 12 percent of victims report the assault, and perpetrators are often repeat offenders, most of whom are acquaintances and current or former partners of victims.

Under the president’s directive, the Office of the Vice President and the council will lead the task force that will consist of the Attorney General, Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary of Education, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, Cabinet Secretary and heads of agencies or offices designated by the body’s two chairs.

The task force, with other agencies, will create a coordinated response practices to campus rape and sexual assault. It will also ensure that institutions comply fully with their legal obligations to prevent and respond to rape and sexual assault as well as broadening the public’s awareness of individual institutions’ compliance with their legal obligation to address such crimes.

Obama directed the task force to submit its action plan within 90 days and provide an annual report of its accomplishments.

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