Remember how a page devoted to climate change action quietly disappeared from the White House website shortly after President Donald Trump took office and pledged to undo the environmental regulations set forth by former President Barack Obama’s administration?
Well, the history seems to be repeating itself.
Alexandra Brodsky, the co-founder of Know Your IX, an organization that works to empower students to end sexual violence in schools, recently noticed the Trump administration had removed the 2014 “Rape and Sexual Assault: Renewed Call to Action” report from the White House website.
The Trump Admin has removed the 2014 White House "Rape and Sexual Assault: Renewed Call to Action" report https://t.co/5xCz2iBZs9— Alexandra Brodsky (@azbrodsky) August 30, 2017
Fortunately, the report, created by the 2014 White House Council on Women and Girls in partnership with former Vice President Joe Biden, can still be found on Know Your IX’s website.
However, its disappearance from the official White House website is alarming nonetheless, given that it presented an in-depth analysis of the data and statistic of sexual assaults in the United States along with its impact on survivors and the marginalized communities.
“As noted, women at our nation’s colleges and universities are at particular risk of being sexually assaulted,” the report read. “To make our campuses safer, change needs to come from many quarters: schools must adopt better policies and practices to prevent these crimes and to more effectively respond when they happen — both by holding offenders accountable and giving victims the help they need to physically and emotionally recover. And federal agencies must better ensure that schools are living up to their obligations.”
Rape victims and their advocates saw it as a concrete way to help tackle the epidemic of campus rape, as the report also addressed the problem of sexual assault in the military and examined how the government could address the issues.
“The report is titled ‘A Renewed Call To Action’ and taking it down is really a discouragement from action,” Brodsky told HuffPost in an interview. “That’s particularly troublesome when we know that the administration is actively considering undermining important policies for survivors like those reaffirmed by the Obama administration regarding Title IX.”
Title IX is the federal civil rights law that prevents gender discrimination in education. Sadly, it’s also something that Trump administration seems to have a vendetta against.
“I went looking for it because I’m working on briefing for a client who’s a survivor and was looking for some literature about the impact of sexual violence and that’s been a really helpful resource for that kind of research,” Brodsky explained. “But it was no longer on the White House website. It’s not anywhere on the White House website.”
The news about the removal of the report coincided with the BuzzFeed’s revelation that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos wants to overhaul the Obama administration’s landmark directive on campus rape policies.
“Candice Jackson, the current head of the US Department of Education's civil rights office, has said in private meetings with different organizations in recent weeks that she wants a 2011 Title IX directive to go through a process called notice-and-comment,” the outlet reported. “That would give the public the chance to submit comments to the department about the rules — in this case, how schools handle sexual assault cases — and let the department respond to their comments. It's a slow process that gives proponents of the 2011 directive a chance to argue for keeping the rules in place, but ultimately, the department has the final say over the future of the regulations.”
The White House’s blatant disregard for sexual assault victims shouldn’t have come as a surprise given the president’s track record with the issue, but it is certainly troublesome and disturbing.
Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, Yuri Gripas