DC City Council Recognizes April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month
In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), DC’s City Council recognized the SAAM Resolution of 2017 during Tuesday’s meeting as an official start to a month full of citywide events focused on ending sexual violence. First introduced by Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), April has been recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the District since 2013.
During her presentation, Council member Cheh recognized the widespread problem of sexual violence throughout DC, calling it a crime that is both “persistent and consistent,” while also acknowledging the “untold numbers of women, men, and children who suffer or who are being victimized.” In order to combat this violence, Council member Cheh praised the work of local advocates and lawmakers, citing both the various awareness campaigns and gains made in the law that have helped to decrease the rates of rape and sexual assault.
Speaking as Chair of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, Council member Charles Allen (D-6) also praised the progress that the District has made in combating sexual assault, citing the passing of the Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights Amendment Act (SAVRAA) in 2014. As part of this landmark legislation, the act sought to improve the ways in which law enforcement handled cases of sexual assault by changing DC’s sexual assault response system to guarantee that cases are handled efficiently while also ensuring that survivors are treated with care and respect. However, even with the passing of SAVRAA, Council member Allen recognized that the city still has room for improvement, stating that “we still have a lot of work to do.”
In recognizing what Council member Cheh called a “strong coalition of organization advocates and allies who actively work to prevent sexual violence and rape,” the council presented the resolution to the DC Rape Crisis Center Executive Director, Indira Henard. As part of her work at the center, Henard has dedicated herself to coordinating public policy initiatives and organized spaces for survivor led advocacy and education.
For more information on Sexual Assault Awareness Month, including a calendar of citywide events happening all month as well as community-specific facts on sexual assault, click here.
If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual violence, the following local DC resources may be able to help:
DC Victim Hotline
Provides free and confidential around-the-clock information and referrals for victims of crime within DC
DC SANE Program
Providing free and open services to anyone who has experienced sexual assault within the previous 96 hours
Open to anyone looking for specialized services for survivors of sexual assault within DC
Marisa Fein is an intern at the Amara Legal Center, based in Washington, DC.