NewsPublic Affairs / March 5, 2020

Advocates, Lawmakers Rally For Consent Study Committee, Sexual Assault Awareness

Original story from   IPBS-RJC

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Advocates, Lawmakers Rally For Consent Study Committee, Sexual Assault Awareness

Rep. Melanie Wright (D-Yorktown) reads over some of the personal statements collected from Hoosiers about their experience with sexual assault. (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Advocates rallied at the Statehouse Thursday for legislation to protect women.

Organizers say because Indiana does not have a law defining consent, sex without consent is not a crime unless there is force, threat of force, or incapacitation. A bill with bipartisan support to create that definition died without a hearing earlier this session.

Women4Change Indiana executive director Rima Shahid says her organization is putting pressure on lawmakers to pass comprehensive consent legislation.

“And so that’s very important for us to make people aware: this is not a rural problem, this is not an urban problem,” Shahid says. “This is a Hoosier problem.”

The rally is part of a yearlong creative initiative to bring awareness to sexual assault called El Tendedero/The Clothesline Indiana. Over the last five months, more than 1,000 pink cards were collected in all 92 counties detailing individual women's experiences with sexual assault and harassment. Those cards are hung on clothesline, and will be displayed at the Statehouse for two weeks.

Speakers also addressed workplace harassment. Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Munster) says without an honest dialogue about harassment and violence against women, nothing will change.

“Let our government become a model for a safe workplace,” Candelaria Reardon says. “We can do this. We need only the political will to do so.”

Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) announced she intends to ask the four legislative leaders to support a summer study committee on sexual violence and consent.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

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