Opinion: Importance of 97% trend

Elly Green, Reporter

In early March, the U.N. Entity for Gender Equality released a study that showed a striking 97% of women in the United Kingdom from ages 18-24 have been victims of sexual harassment, according to Distractify. This, along with the recent death of Sarah Everard, who was walking home on Mar. 3 and was killed, allegedly, by a police officer, sparked a social media movement addressing both violence and sexual violence against women.

According to Rainn, one in six women in the United States have been victims of attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. 

These numbers are alarming, however minorities suffer sexual violence at much higher rates. Compared to the 16.6% of women, transgender individuals bear a high 64% statistic when it comes to sexual assault. Along with this, American Indians are twice as likely to experience sexual assault compared to all other races, according to Rainn

While sexual assault numbers are high, sadly the number of perpetrators who walk free is even higher. According to Huffpost, 99% of sexual violence criminals will not be prosecuted in their lifetime.

Yet another trend circulating and has been said for many years is the ideology of “not all men.” Meaning that while women experience high rates of sexual assault in both public and private places, not all men are the perpetrators of such crimes. While this is true, not every single man has sexually assaulted a woman in their lifetime, the “not all men” trope takes the attention away from women’s stories and draws the attention back onto men, according to Medium

According to Jackson Health System, victims may be uncertain if what they experienced is assault. Some people do not recognize if they were sexually assaulted until it is pointed out to them. This is due to a limited understanding of what exactly is sexual assault. According to Healthy Women, sexual assault can include the following; rape, attempted rape, any sexual act with someone who is intoxicated, underage or who suffers from an intellectual disability. It also spreads to; incest, sexual contact with a child and unwanted touching under or above clothing. Not only is sexual assault physical but it can be visual or verbal. For example; public indecency, sexual threats or harassment, peeping and much more. 

With the high numbers in sexual assault, you could assume that report rate would be high as well. However, only about 15.8% to 35% of women actually report their sexual assault experiences according to Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA). Some reasons women do not report would be; shame, uncertainty, guilt and avoidance. Other reasons, according to Marshall News Messenger, is something called “rape culture.” Rape culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media as popular culture. An example of rape culture might be; blaming the victim, saying that she was asking for it, trivializing sexual assault or saying boys will be boys and inflating false rape report statistics. 

Due to environments that excuse sexual assault behavior from men, a raging 53% of women greatly fear sexual assault, compared to 24% of men. Women are twice as likely to experience fear walking or jogging home in their own neighborhood at night, allowing maintenance workers inside their homes or taking out the trash while dark, according to the New York Daily News

Overall, while sharing information about the 97% of women who have been victims of sexual harassment on social media is a good place for students to start in order to advocate for future change, I feel as though Newton, specifically Newton High School, could go one step further. As many students and staff note, there has been great deals of sexual harassment throughout our very own halls, and this is unacceptable behavior. It is our duty as Railers to be allies to those affected and support them in sharing their own stories. We must not defend the negative behaviors but instead advocate for change. Although in the grand scheme of things, NHS may seem small, if we all work together, big changes are on the horizon.