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Whom Does the Sexual Violence Elimination Act Actually Protect?

It is estimated that a college with at least 10,000 students will have as many as 350 sexual assaults each year. What if the rape complainants were thought to be guilty until proven innocent? The SaVE Act (Sexual Violence Elimination Act) does just this, Wendy Murphy reports, by helping schools and offenders avoid accountability.

When first introduced to Congress SaVE appeared promising.  But the bill underwent revisions in Congress and important sections were excluded.  Moreover, SaVE was subsumed under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. “Since VAWA is a big funding law,” Murphy reports, “the move silenced many groups that desperately needed to see it passed to get VAWA money.” In its final form, the SaVE Act “effectively overturns Title IX’s longstanding regulatory mandate requiring schools to adopt “prompt and equitable” policies and procedures to ensure effective justice for victims of gender-based violence.”

Before SaVE if a woman was raped on campus, she could prove the offense under Title IX by showing simply that the conduct was “offensive,” “based on sex” and “unwelcome.” After SaVE, that same victim will have to prove her case under much more onerous state criminal law standards that, in almost all jurisdictions, require proof of “penetration,” “without consent” plus “force.”  Furthermore, SaVE authorizes schools not to publicly report statistics regarding rape and sexual violence, as required under the Clery Act, unless such violence causes “bodily injury.” “This provision subjects such violence to inherently unfair standards,” Murphy writes, “because a substantial percentage of rape and sexual assault does not cause ‘bodily injury.’”

As Murphy as reported in related articles, prominent universities, including Harvard, Hofstra, and Princeton, pushed for the bill’s passage because they face lawsuits for not taking adequate measures to investigate rape accusations.

Sources:

Wendy Murphy, “Campus SaVE Law Does Exact Opposite,” Womens ENews, January 22, 2014, http://womensenews.org/story/education/140121/campus-save-law-does-exact-opposite#.Uzhq-VciMXK.

Wendy Murphy, “Send Your Daughter to Old Dominion, Not Harvard,” Womens ENews, October 26, 2012, http://womensenews.org/story/rape/121025/send-your-daughter-old-dominion-not-harvard.

Student Researcher: Dominique Brower (Indian River State College)

Faculty Evaluator: Elliot Cohen (Indian River State College)

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