Recently, there have been new critically important federal initiatives focused on the criminal justice and community response to sexual assault: a Senate Sub-Committee Hearing on the police response to rape, and a first-ever Roundtable held at the White House on the topic of violence against women. Kim Day, RN, FNE A/P, one of our FMH Forensic Nurse Examiners, participated in the White House Roundtable in her position as the International Association of Forensic Nurses’ SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Exam) Technical Assistance Coordinator.
Senate Sub-Committee Hearing on Reporting and Investigation of Rape Cases
On September 14, 2010, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, held a hearing entitled: “Rape in the United States: The Chronic Failure to Report and Investigate Rape Cases.” Chairman Arlen Specter presided, and a number of witnesses testified, including both survivors and professionals working in the field. This hearing was held in response to media reports that police mishandled rape reports in six cities across the United States. You can view the entire video or the testimony of individual witnesses.
Roundtable Hosted by the White House
A similar call to action emerged from the Roundtable on Sexual Violence hosted on October 27, 2010, by the White House Council on Women and Girls and Lynn Rosenthal, White House Advisor on Violence Against Women. The initial discussion included more than 60 experts and survivors from a wide range of disciplines as well as agencies within the federal government. As described by the co-hosts of the Roundtable:
“We believe that a comprehensive national strategy is needed to adequately address sexual violence. To undertake such an initiative, we are beginning with this first multi-disciplinary roundtable. Our goal is to gather information and ideas from as many concerned constituencies as possible, within and outside the government, to develop meaningful strategies for ending sexual violence and the attitudes and culture that condone it. Our goal for this first roundtable is to gather national perspectives on sexual violence and help us chart our course ahead over both the short- and long-term.”
Kim was also one of a smaller group of experts who were also invited to an event at the White House to meet with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden. At this event, the President outlined a variety of initiatives for addressing violence against women, both by the Department of Justice as well as other departments within the federal government. These are posted by the Office of Public Affairs of the U.S. Department of Justice. A video of the event is archived at the website for the White House, and a complete transcript of the event is also available as well. As President Obama summarized:
“This is not just the job of government. It’s a job for all of us. So I want to thank all of you for the work that you do in your respective communities. And I want you to know that this administration is going to stand with you each and every step of the way.”