Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Why We Must Focus on Black Girls and Child Sexual Abuse
By Tarana Burke
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Every year during this time, there are campaigns across the country that highlight the dangers of acquaintance or “date” rape. There are silent marches and “Take back the night” events on college campuses around the country, and generally a heightened focus on the epidemic of sexual violence among adult women in the United States. Although organizations that fight this scourge have been observing April as a month to raise awareness since the 1980s, it wasn’t named an official month of observation until 2009, when President Barack Obama made an official declaration.
As an advocate who fights sexual violence against women and girls, I am always keenly aware of April’s activities; but as a survivor of child sexual abuse, I am also always deeply disappointed at the lack of focus on child survivors. According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, 67 percent of reported sexual assault victims are under 18 years old, and 34 percent of all victims are younger than 12. In fact, while the national statistic for women who will experience rape in their lifetimes is 1 in every 5 (pdf), for girls (under 16) the number is 1 in every 4.
I want to talk about this.
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