BYU Women’s Services promotes Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. (Chuck Dearden)

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and BYU’s Women’s Services and Resources is promoting a campaign for the cause this week.

The campaign began with a keynote lecture by Elizabeth Smart on overcoming adversity on March 31. The organization then hosted a Chalk the Walk activity on April 3, during which students could write with chalk on the sidewalk in Brigham Square to pledge against sexual assault and violence.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month originated in the 1970s. San Francisco and New York City held the first national events in the United States to promote awareness in 1978.

This year, the Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign theme is called Engaging New Voices, which will focus on involving different community members to prevent sexual assault.

According to the Utah Department of Health, some kind of sexual violence will occur to 1 in 3 women in their lifetime. Also, the Utah rape rate has been continually higher than that of the United States. Utah’s rate is 67.7 percent per 100,000 females, while that of the U.S. is 51.9 percent.

Elizabeth Smart was a keynote speaker at BYU on March 31. Her lecture kicked off the BYU Women’s Services and Resources campaign for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. (Elizabeth Smart)

The Utah Department of Health website also states that 88.2 percent of rapes are never reported to law enforcement.

Sexual assault is rarely committed by strangers. Just 13.3 of victims report being assaulted by someone they do not know, according to the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice.

Women’s Services and Resources will also have an Awareness Gallery with visual representations of sexual assault statistics on April 5, a presentation by Martin Liccardo about engaging men in violence prevention on April 6 and a self-defense workshop on April 7. More information can be found at titleix.byu.edu or wsr.byu.edu.

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