Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"The night is ours as well."

by Simona Vogel

The Women's Affairs Commission of the Student Senate at Ohio University, which has organized Take Back The Night week 2008, is offering several activities and events for empowerment and to increase awareness of sexual assaults against women.

Sally Neidhard, the OU Student Senate women's affairs commissioner, organized the event. She says the week and the rally are about more than just prevention techniques; the main point is still the empowerment of women and sexual assault victims.

Sally Neidhard, Student Senate women's affairs commissioner, talks about the beginnings of the rally in San Francisco in the 1970's and how the idea is still alive and important.

The idea for the event is a few decades old -- the first American rally took place in San Francisco in 1978 and the slogan was heard from protesters at an anti-pornography conference. Since then, the movement has spread throughout the country.
Women should not be afraid to go out at night alone and be able to feel safe in their environment. This can be achieved partly through women's empowerment. But the other part has to be educating people to create awareness of the problem and to change things as a whole.

In 2006 there were four registered forcible sex offenses in Athens, compared to 17 in 2005 and 25 in 2004. But often the cases are not reported to the police and the figure may be higher.

Lieutenant Chris Johnson of the OU Police Department says that the sexual assaults are often preceded by high alcohol consumption by one or both parties. He says in a new environment, for example at a party, it is important to know where your drinks come from, that you open cans yourself and stop when you don't feel well and ask a friend to get you home.

OUPD Lieutenant Chris Johnson explains prevention measures at parties.

Johnson says women who have been victims of a sexual assault should always seek help, go to a hospital and talk to their friends. There are also several organizations that can help and he says it can be important to just be there as a friend for someone who has been a victim by listening to them and trying to help as much as possible.

OUPD Lieutenant Chris Johnson talks about how to protect yourself and how to help a friend who might have been a victim.

The full list of events at the Take Back the Night week can be found at the website of the Sexual Assault Prevention Program.

Further Links
2007 Clery Report
Take Back The Night
OU Women's Center
How to help victims of sexual assaults; Resource Collection
OUPD Safe-T Patrol

Athens Sexual Assault Survivor Advocacy program - Tel: 740-593-3344
Walk home safe with Safe-T Patrol team - Tel: 740-593-4040

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