A recently-published White House report found that one in five women and one in 71 men face sexual assault while in college. Regarding the report, President Obama announced a “task force” to combat the number of incidences.
“I want to make sure we are doing everything we can to spare another American the trauma of sexual assault,” he said. According to NPR’s Tamara Keith, this task force will “look at what colleges can do to better prevent assaults,” and will put “pressure on those that aren’t doing a great job.”
But this is about more than just enforcing laws, according to head of White House Council on Women and Girls Valeria Jarett. In a recent blog post, she said there will also be efforts to “empower both women and men to stand up against sexual assault, in order to change a culture of passivity and tolerance in this country, which too often allows this type of violence to persist.”
Dylan Farrow’s story is perhaps the greatest testament to that cultural passivity. In an open letter published in the New York Times this week, the now 28 year old adopted daughter of Woody Allen spoke publicly for the first time about the scandal that barely breezed the acclaimed film director’s reputation in the 90s. When Farrow was just seven years old, she claims Allen sexually assaulted her – a climax to a series of perversive interactions he had previously initiated. Many ignored the allegations. “Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse,” she wrote, mirroring Jarett’s comments. “All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, ‘who can say what happened,’ to pretend that nothing was wrong.”
Obama’s task force will report its findings within 90 days.