It Happens Everywhere is our weekly newsletter where we take a look at what is happening in the world and try to start a conversation, a conversation that will make people think, and hopefully stand up against sexual violence.
This week’s newsletter will cover the past two weeks, hence it will be a bit longer.
It Happens Here, It Happens Everywhere.
CN: sexual violence, rape, abuse.
Government review recommends that Universities update their sex crime guidelines
A taskforce set up to investigate the way Universities deal with sexual violence concluded there is an ‘overwhelming need’ for guidelines to be updates. The current guidelines were published in 1994, and given the “significant technological changes in how students conduct their relationships,” and “the rise of social media,” they are in need of refreshing.
Universities are legally required to protect their students, yet it is increasingly apparent that UK universities are not by any means a safe place free from sexual violence; Universities cannot be dealing with incidents of sexual violence on the basis of 22 year old guidelines.
This would be a welcome and necessary change.
Scotland Revenge Porn legislation passed
Having been in the works since October 2014, and with laws in England and Wales in place as of last year (the first person was found guilty under these laws in August 2015) MSPs in Scotland have passed new legislation on abusive behaviour making “revenge porn” a criminal offence.
It was made a specific offence to non-consensually share private and intimate images. Measures were also introduced to allow courts to directly protect survivors, even if a conviction has not been reached due to the mental or physical condition of the accused, and a requirement was introduced that juries are given specific directions on how to consider evidence in cases of sexual violence, as well as other measures.
It was unanimously supported by all political parties.
Howard University students gather to protest handling of Campus rape
On Tuesday, over 100 Howard University students gathered to protest the University’s slow response to two rape cases, one of which took place in May 2015, and another which took place in early February 2016. They compiled a list of demands, which coincided with an upcoming Take Back the Night rally where students of the University and people in the local area planned to gather to bring attention to sexual violence.
The students demanded that there be a thorough investigation of all reported assaults on Campus, that aggressors be removed from the campus until the investigation has reached a conclusion, and that survivors are not removed from campus as a result of coming forward, among other things.
Protests and events such as these give us a voice, and a chance to demand survivor’s right to be heard, to be believed, and their right to justice. We can fight successfully to stop sexual violence.
Darren Sharper to serve 15-20 years in prison under revised plea deal
Former NFL player Darren Sharper last year pleaded guilty to charges of drugging and raping nine women across four states. His original plea agreement in February was rejected because its proposal of a nine year prison sentence was deemed too lenient.
On Tuesday, a revised plea deal was accepted by federal judges. It involves a 15-20 year prison term, and requires him to comply with a lifetime of parole and probation restrictions following his prison term. He is set to be sentenced in June.
A Police Officer who was jailed for having sex with domestic violence survivor’s is dismissed
PC Simon Salway was jailed for 3 years in January for 6 charges of misconduct, and on Wednesday, he was officially dismissed from Hertfordshire Constabulary.
Whilst working with survivors of domestic violence, Mr Salway gained their trust before flirting with them and sending sexual messages. Over a 7 year period, he used his position as an opportunity to pursue sexual relationships. It is said that he “callously took advantage…. Without any concern for the consequences.”
The fact that a trusted member of staff whose job it was to protect and assist those who came forward regarding domestic violence instead took advantage of this position, will only discourage people coming forward to the police. However, it is a positive step that his behaviour has not been tolerated and he faces repercussions for his actions.
British Transport Police dispand specialist unit for investigating sexual offences on Tubes
A specialist policing unit set up in 2013 to investigate sexual violence on tubes is to be disbanded. The timing for such a move could not be worse.
There were 1,603 reports of sex offences on London’s Tube, trains and buses between April and December last year. This was a 43.5% increase from the same time period in 2014. An Internal risk assessment by TFL also suggested that the introduction of the Night Tube will lead to a rise in sexual offences on the underground.
It was reported that offences will now be investigated by any of the 269 British Transport Police (BTP) officers nationally. However, given the breadth of the offences which the BTP deals with, the absence of officers with expertise and focus on cases of sexual violence, increases the risk that sex crimes will be tackled less efficiently and less sensitively.
Jian Ghomeshi found not guilty of all sexual assault charges
A popular and powerful former Canadian radio star was found not guilty on all charges of violently sexually assaulting several women. In 2014, he was fired from his broadcasting job after showing others in his organisation a video of a woman being physically harmed. In the weeks which followed, over 20 women and 1 man came forward with accusations of violence and non-consensual acts.
It has been commented that the nature of the trial seemed to be putting the survivors on trial, as opposed to Ghomeshi. Many survivors reported being shaken by the way the trial proceeded, and by its result. Specialised courts for cases of sexual violence, where everyone involved is specifically trained, exist in some parts of Canada. However, it has been suggested this should be the case nationwide.
He will face a second trial for sexual assault on a fourth person in June.
With only 10% of sexual assaults in Canada ever reported to the police, Ghomeshis’s exoneration may lessen faith in the system even further.
Rhiannon Thompson, Publicity Team