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News Roundup for Independence Day

Good afternoon BARCC blog readers! I came to work this morning, convinced that I would not be able to write a blog piece today.  However BARCC is closed on Thursday and Friday so I knew the pressure was on to actually write one this afternoon.  While I am looking forward to having time off and seeing my family, I am not terribly excited to celebrate Independence Day this year.  The past week and half has overflowed with stories of rights being taken away, complete disregard for the multiple forms of discrimination that still exists throughout our society, and attempts at trying to blind people as to the intersectionality of these issues.

Last week, I wrote an amazing blog post (although I admit I am a bit biased) about the intersections of the Voting Rights Act, Texas SB5, and DOMA. I feel that I could write the EXACT same blog this week taking into consideration the legislation that is coming out of Ohio, New Jersey, and North Carolina.  But that doesn’t seem like the best use of the forum. Although I do encourage you to go back to last week’s blog and read it if you haven’t. 

This weekend, as you celebrate Independence Day and all the freedoms that come with living in this country, I encourage you also to start a dialogue about the freedoms and rights that withheld from people throughout this nation.  The injustices that oftentimes are overlooked because of how they impact marginalized populations.  Working towards true equality, freedom, and a violence-free society requires us to look not only what has been done well but also at poor decisions made by those in power and how they impact everyone. 

With that, I leave you a selection of stories to keep in mind …

The military is still addressing a huge sexual assault problem that is impacting an estimated 26,000 service members every year.  There’s been a push to remove pornography from bases and ships.  The Coast Guard is, and has a history of, sweeping reports of sexual assault under the rug oftentimes discharging survivors under the guise of mental health or behavioral problems.  Instead of focusing on what changes can be implemented to reduce assaults, people focus on how women don’t belong in the military and ignore the thousands of male survivors.

Native American rights and identities are only recognized by the federal and state if a certain percentage of blood can be verified.  Somehow this makes sense to despite how  we don not measure any other race or ethnicity in this country in the same way.  Native Americans have experienced centuries of colonialism, forced assimilation, and discrimination.  It was only this year that VAWA included additional rights for Native Americans who were sexually assaulted by non-Natives.  However those stipulations were hotly contested and one of the major issues that dragged on the debate of VAWA in Congress. 

College survivors of sexual assault are demanding that their cases be taken seriously and that Title IX is enforced on the many schools that ignore or silence incidents of rape and sexual assault. 

Republican states are taking every dirty method possible to pass laws that restrict, limit, and essentially eradicate family planning and abortion services for the people of their state.  Texas attempted to pass SB5 and even said that it passed despite the vote being started after 12midnight.  They are now in a second special session to address the same bill.  Ohio passed new abortion legislation that was attached to the budget, was not debated, and was sneakily inserted without the public knowing.  One of these new protocols state that certain agencies, even rape crisis centers, can lose their state funding if they talk about abortion with clients.  North Carolina attached multiple abortion restrictions to a bill meant to ban Sharia law.  These restrictions would force many of the clinics in the state to close thus leaving many individuals without access to safe abortion and family planning care.  New Jersey governor refuses to sign a budget that provides funding for Planned Parenthood and other family planning clinics.  The budget included additional funds for these organizations since so many clinics have been forced to close since Gov Christie has taken office.  He has now refused to sign five state budgets.

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Posted by stacey

Stacey formerly served BARCC as the coordinator for Community Awareness and Outreach. Prior to BARCC, she worked for the Navy as a sexual assault response coordinator and volunteered for the DC Rape Crisis Center. She got involved with anti-rape work during college and has enjoyed doing both direct services and educational work.

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