College works to raise awareness

by Lauren Gee | 4/13/01 5:00am

Both statewide and on-campus this month, activists are working to raise awareness about violence against women by catapulting sexual assault into the public spotlight.

New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen, who declared April Sexual Assault Awareness Month in New Hampshire, has recently announced the implementation of a three-step plan aimed at alleviating problems related to sexual assault.

The first two measures, developed by the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, include the establishment of a statewide telephone hotline as well as the distribution of the second annual "Sexual Assault Monograph" brochure.

An additional effort is being launched by the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office to establish a new protocol for police officers who are first to arrive at the scene of a sexual assault.

According to the governor's press secretary, Pamela Walsh, the special designation of this month is significant because "sexual assault is traditionally a very underreported crime. It is important to draw attention to it and to encourage people to get help, encourage people to help victims."

In coordination with the effort to battle sexual assault, Dartmouth kicked off its annual Sexual Assault Awareness Week yesterday evening with an event on the impact of economic oppression on women's freedom. Although particularly focused on the sex trade in Asia, the presentation expounded on similar global issues as well.

Among myriad programs to be held throughout the week is the traditional "Take Back the Night" march, scheduled for this Monday.

A common theme of participants in "Take Back the Night" marches -- which have swept the nation's campuses and neighborhoods -- is that women should not have to heed warnings to stay indoors after certain hours.

Only one link in a nationwide chain, Dartmouth demonstrators will walk through campus and eventually gather for a ceremony on the Green to commemorate victims of sexual violence.

Wednesday night's event, "Men as Allies: Men Working to End Sexual Violence," offers suggestions for male participation in the fight against sexual violence. Members of the Westchester University Fraternity Violence Education Project will speak about how men can help.

Providing closure to the weeklong awareness program, Costa Rican artist Patricia Erickson will be featured in a Hopkins Center art exhibit that displays the struggles and successes of abused Costa Rican women.

According to Giavanna Munafo of the Women's Resource Center, the heightened sexual abuse awareness that this month promises to foster should be "looked at from a campus, national and international perspective."

"The real focus is on how issues of sexual violence are experienced by women and men globally," Munafo continued.

She said about Dartmouth, "Every year after this week people come forward. When you do these kinds of awareness campaigns, fortunately and unfortunately it does identify the resources that people need."

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