According to statistics kept by the University of Iowa, one in six women and 1 in 33 men experience a completed or attempted rape. The Iowa Attorney General recently published that 12.7% of adult women in Iowa have been victims of completed or forcible rape during their lifetime. The last census showed that there were 1.1 million women living in Iowa over the age of 18. This means that 132,000 women were victims of rape in some form in Iowa during their lifetime.
A number of these acts occur on college campuses or institutions of learning. Almost 11% of all undergraduate women attending college or a university will experience rape or sexual assault on campus. The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network also states that 4.2% of students have experienced some form of stalking. The University of Iowa reported that there were 52 rapes on campus in 2017. In 2016, there were 41. Those reports showed an increase from the 29 reported in both 2014 and 2015.
In workplace situations, unwelcome or forced touching, otherwise termed “fondling”, 65 cases were reported in 2017 compared to 35 in 2016. These cases were reported to have taken place on or near the University of Iowa. In fact, one victim reported being fondled 28 times by the same co-worker.
In a number of cases, women have a hard time trying to come forward and report the action to the authorities. It is even harder for men because of the perception of weakness. To make matters worse, rape kits used to determine the rapist are sometimes backlogged to the point that they are not processed for a year or more, especially in more metropolitan locations. Even so, women have to find a means to escape from the possibility of additional assaults by the same person. To do so means to move miles away from the job they have and change the school their children attend. Ernst wants to see money flow to rape and sexual assault victims so that they can stay close to their job and children’s school through safe houses and private homes and apartments.
Here in northern Iowa, rural services are limited, but still available. A new measure being designed by Senators Joni Ernst and Diane Feinstein of California would have changed that. The measure would have increased funding to meet the needs of both the metropolitan and rural areas, however, Feinstein was asked by her leadership to abandon her work on the measure in favor of a bill that would have no chance of passing, effectively ending the hope of money and services in this bill to help to rape victims.
Senator Joni Ernst, herself a victim, wants to move the legislation forward and get what she terms as needed money to victims and their children. She took a moment to talk about the measure with KIOW News Director A. J. Taylor in our Sunday Talk.