MCASA’s team has had a busy start to the fall, hosting many trainings and attending campus and community outreach events across the state. Our Virtual Campus Training Series started with a presentation on Sexual Assault Forensic Exams: Rights, Options, and New Laws in September. Participants learned about the challenges survivors may face if they use “DIY” exam kits and the substantial concerns about whether evidence collected by DIY kits will be admissible. MCASA is committed to ensuring that survivors have all the information they need as they make choices about their care and we are troubled that commercial entities are seeking to profit off of survivors.
We also hosted our annual Call to Action in person in September, where we were joined by advocates, community members, and legislators to prepare for the 2024 legislative session. Two student advocates spoke about the importance of consent as we continue our work to modernize Maryland rape law and create a statutory definition of “consent”. Thank you to everyone who sponsored and attended this event. Your support is crucial to our work to advocate for survivors statewide.
Many new laws in Maryland also took effect on October 1st. MCASA is a leading voice for survivors in Annapolis, and our legislative advocacy helped support important progress for sexual assault survivors in 2023. Our Lunch and Learn on November 1st gave an overview of Maryland’s new laws and their impact on sexual assault survivors.
This month MCASA is also supporting the Maryland Women of Color Network Conference on November 16th at Bowie State University. The 18th annual conference will follow the theme Empowering Mind, Body, and Spirit: Healing and Thriving after Trauma. Space is limited, so we encourage you to learn more and purchase tickets here. To learn more about the Maryland Women of Color Network, visit our webpage here.
In this edition of Frontline, in our Prevention Corner, we are excited to announce a new prevention project supported by the CDC working on healthy equity. This newsletter also provides an overview of the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) and the process for reviewing a decision not to test a kit. In addition, we discuss economic abuse and workplace sexual harassment experiences of LGBTQ+ survivors and our collaborative prevention work to address these issues.
In our College Consortium column, we highlight upcoming legislative work on consent and the importance of engaging Maryland college students in policy advocacy. In our Survivor Safety column, we explore safety concerns of online dating and share some safety tools for our digital presence. Finally, we highlight the great work of another of Maryland’s Rape Crisis and Recovery Centers, YWCA of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, in our Program Spotlight.
MCASA is proud to continue this work to end sexual violence here in Maryland and nationwide and we are so grateful for your support. Your donations make our work possible, please consider joining and contributing to help survivors.
Lisae Jordan, Esq.
Executive Director & Counsel
Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault