Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Week of Events Call Attention to Violence Against Women

Week of Events Call Attention to Violence Against Women

By Heather Burke Hoya Staff Writer

This week, the annual Take Back the Night Week will feature a series of performances, workshops and lectures culminating in Friday night’s rally, march and speak-out. The week is an effort to call attention to the problem of violence against women on campus and in society.

According to Take Back the Night Planning Committee Co-Chair Patti Barnett (COL ’00), the purpose of the week’s events is to educate students on the problem of sexual assault and violence against women.

“Hopefully, Georgetown students can understand this is an issue that is important on campus that we need to address in our day-to-day activities,” she said.

Barnett said that Take Back the Night rallies and speak-outs started in major cities, but then started to be held on college campuses as the problem of sexual assaults grew at many colleges and universities. This is the fourth consecutive year at Georgetown in which Take Back the Night has been extended to a week of events. “[The event] is so successful, so powerful that it is important to extend it into a week,” Barnett said.

Women’s Center Director Nancy Cantalupo did not return a phone message left Wednesday.

Take Back the Night Week commenced Monday night with an Open Mic night at Uncommon Grounds in which students shared poetry, prose, music and art relating to violence against women.

Tonight, a spokesperson from the National Organization for Women Legal Defense Fund and Sexual Assault and Women’s Health Services Coordinator Carolyn Hurwitz will hold a panel discussion on the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, which is up for re-authorization in the next year. According to Barnett, the act, formulated by local law enforcement officials and community activists working with the federal government, criminalizes acts such as domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. According to the NOW Web site, the law gives federal grants at the state and local level for legal and social services programs to combat domestic violence and other sexual assault crimes.

Wednesday night, performer Nancy Hulse will present an artistic production of dance, drama and music depicting the history of an abusive sexual relationshipat 7:30 p.m. in the Leavey Program Room. According to the Take Back the Night Week flier of events, the performance “is specific and yet universal in its theme.”

On Thursday, there will be two workshops. The first is at 5:30 p.m. in White Gravenor 208, titled “Dealing with Harassment and Defending Yourself.” Presenter Marty Langelan will discuss everyday incidents of violence such as street, workplace and sexual harassment, according to Barnett. She said the workshop will give practical knowledge on how students can combat these types of harassment verbally and physically. A second workshop at 8 p.m. in the Leavey Program Room, conducted by the Men’s Rape Prevention Project, will focus on how violence against women affects men and why they should be aware of the issue.

Take Back the Night Week will end Friday night with its traditional rally, march and speak-out. From 5 until 7 p.m., Georgetown performance groups such as Superfood, the GU Gospel Choir, the Phantoms, the GU Step Team and the student ska band Dr. Zaius will play in Red Square to draw attention to the event, according to Barnett. The rally will begin at 7 p.m. in Red Square. Barnett said speakers include a freshman female rape survivor and an attorney from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The attorney will discuss how the federal legal system is making crimes of violence against women a priority to prosecute, according to Barnett. She will focus especially on acts such as domestic violence and child sexual abuse often committed in the privacy of the home, a priority to prosecute, Barnett said.

After the rally, event attendees will march through campus and the Georgetown area to symbolically “take back the night” for women. Barnett said police will meet the marchers on Prospect Street and provide an escort. She said that police have blocked two lanes each on sections of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue for the marchers.

After the march, there will be a speak-out in the Leavey Program Room. The speak-out will allow victims of violence and others affected by or interested in issues of sexual assault and violence against women to share their stories and thoughts. Barnett said one of the goals for Take Back the Night Week is to provide an “environment where men and women can be comfortable in talking about issues and women can be comfortable enough to say ‘I was sexually assaulted and I need help.'” Barnett added that the speak-out will offer an intimate, low-key, supportive environment because many men and women will share their stories for the first time.

Barnett estimates that 100-120 people attended the rally, march and speak-out last year. She said she hopes the addition of the performance groups prior to the event will increase turnout this year.

Take Back the Night Week is co-sponsored by the Georgetown Women’s Center, the Alliance for Women’s Empowerment and Sexual Assault Services.

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