Friday, March 22, 2013

Taking Action After Steubenville

This week many of us have followed coverage of the Steubenville verdict, which found two teenage boys guilty of the rape of a 16-year-old girl. The responses from the media and public alike have invoked rape myths and rape culture once again, and we are glad to see the anti-sexual-violence movement responding. We wanted to link to some of the best responses that we’ve read recently and offer links to resources for learning more and creating change in your own community. We would also love to hear from you—what are the most powerful or motivating responses you’ve seen or read this week?

1. Jaclyn Friedman’s column on Steubenville discusses Toxic Masculinity and how our culture is reinforcing to young men that masculinity is superior, and how that leads to violence. “If we want to end the pandemic of rape, it’s going to require an entire global movement of men who are willing to do the hard work required to unpack and interrogate the ideas of masculinity they were raised with, and to create and model new masculinities that don’t enable misogyny. Masculinities built not on power over women, but on power with women.” Read the full article here.

2. CNN’s reaction to the Steubenville verdict was wildly off target--sympathizing with the defendants. “CNN decided to paint the tears of the convicted Steubenville rapists in a sympathetic light and say how their lives were ruined.” There was no mention of the young woman who survived the attack during these remarks. Sign this petition on to ask CNN to apologize for its coverage.

3. In the larger context of sexual exploitation, the media often misrepresents topics like prostitution, trafficking, and violence against women. CAASE’s Responding to the Media toolkit offers ways to respond to inaccurate editorials, reports, and TV segments that you might encounter.

4. Responses to rape are often not victim-centered, and all of us could stand to learn more about responding when someone discloses a sexual assault.  If you would like to learn more about constructive ways to help a survivor of sexual assault or rape, these tips from Rape Victim Advocates offer some best practices.

5. Learn about CAASE’s legal services for survivors of sexual assault. Our attorneys offer free legal counsel to survivors of both sexual assault and the sex trade, helping them to navigate the criminal justice system and representing them in civil court to seek justice against their perpetrators. Learn more here. 

Written by CAASE's Prevention Intern, Roxy Kozyckyj, and Kristin Claes Mathews 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Felony Prostitution Doesn't Make Sense Anywhere in Illinois: Take Action!

Yesterday, the Cook County Board heard a resolution to place a moratorium on felony sentencing for prostitution in the county, in response to overcrowding in Cook County jail. They also urged support of Senate Bill 1872, our End Demand Illinois legislation to eliminate the felony sentence statewide. Senate Bill 1872 passed unanimously in the Illinois Senate Criminal Law committee last week and will soon be called on the Senate floor.

Felony sentencing for prostitution doesn’t make anywhere else in Illinois, and Senate Bill 1872 eliminates it statewide.

“We appreciate that Cook County officials don’t want to see people charged with felonies for prostitution,” said Lynne Johnson, policy and advocacy director for the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation. “We urge lawmakers and the public to support Senate Bill 1872 to eliminate the felony upgrade for prostitution throughout Illinois. This is not just a Cook County issue, as it affects people in counties throughout our state.”

You can take action TODAY. Call your Illinois State Senator. You could say "I'm calling to ask the senator to support Senate Bill 1872 to eliminate the felony upgrade for prostitution in Illinois."
Want to know more?
  • Felony prostitution unfairly targets women for harsher punishments. The “solicitation” offense for customers does not have a felony upgrade for subsequent offenses and is rarely enforced. In 2011, when law enforcement charged under the state criminal code, there were 1,875 arrests for prostitution and 95 arrests for solicitation. Since 2010, 370 women have been admitted to IDOC for felony prostitution. Fewer than 10 people in Illinois have ever been convicted of the felony offense of “patronizing a prostitute” since its passage in 2010.
  • Felony prostitution sentencing is rare in the United States.  Only seven other states have a felony prostitution sentencing option for subsequent offenses. (Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Texas)
  • Felony prostitution is an expensive waste of diminishing local and state public safety resources. Illinois’ Department of Corrections reported 127 felony prostitution admissions for 2012, costing the state $2,011,680. Pretrial detention for those facing felony prostitution charges costs Cook County Department of Corrections between $5.3 to 9.5 million annually.
End Demand Illinois envisions a statewide response to prostitution that includes community-based, specialized services for survivors. To learn more about this legislation, visit the End Demand Illinois website.