Wednesday, August 10, 2022

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The Power of a Collective Voice to End Sexual Violence

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Wednesday, April 27, 2022   

Justice for survivors, removing a legal loophole for spousal rape and age-appropriate sexual violence education are the policy priorities Ohio lawmakers will be hearing more about today. It's the 10th annual Advocacy Day for the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

Emily Gemar, the group's manager of public policy, said folks from throughout the state will meet with more than three dozen legislative offices to discuss issues related to sexual violence that impact families and communities.

"Voices from the metropolitan areas, the rural areas and the areas where there's one rape-crisis center serving five counties," she said. "It definitely is through our collective voice that we are able to make change for the better."

Gemar said legislation they'll discuss includes House Bill 105, known as Erin's law. It would require age-appropriate instruction on sexual-abuse prevention for K-through-12 students. They'll also talk about House Bill 121, which would remove Ohio's spousal exemption for rape, and House Bill 266, which ends the statue of limitations for criminal prosecutions of rape and extends the limitation period for civil action by victims of childhood sexual abuse.

Ryn Farmer, deputy director of Crime Victim Services, explained that survivors of sexual violence often stay silent because they don't feel safe reporting their assault.

"Either they've had negative experiences with law enforcement; they're afraid of retaliation by the person that sexually assaulted them; they're worried they won't be believed," she said. "We shouldn't put that time limit on how a survivor is able access justice and then, heal through the trauma."

Farmer encouraged Ohioans to learn how they can help those affected by sexual violence, which could include advocacy work as well as donations of time or money.

"We always appreciate our local folks in the community volunteering or giving donations to local rape-crisis centers," she said. "Many of us have lost funding over the last few years, and have been negatively impacted by COVID as well. And so, whatever capacity they have to be involved, we welcome that."

Advocates also will tout the importance of Rape Crisis Center funding in the Attorney General's budget. It started in 2014 and now stands at $10 million for 2022. The Advocacy Day events will be livestreamed. Learn more online at oaesv.org/AdvocacyDay.

Disclosure: Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault, Health Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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