Over the past three months, MCASA has been busy advocating for legislation to support survivors in the 2022 Maryland Legislative Session. We are so grateful for everyone who has already called, emailed, testified, and advocated to improve Maryland laws and policies to end sexual violence and support survivors. Thank you for your support.
As we approach the conclusion of this year’s session on April 11th, MCASA is still advocating for funding for rape crisis centers, repeal of the law making marriage a defense to some types of rape and other sex crimes, and improvements to Maryland’s sexual harassment laws. For more information, our full list of legislative priorities is available on our website here. About half of all bills that pass, pass in the last few days of session, so please continue to advocate. Remember to check in after session to see what bills passed and which legislators helped improve laws for survivors.
Last month, we also celebrated two major legislative victories that provide significant funding to victim services providers. On March 15th, President Biden signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), reauthorizing the law through 2027. Funding from VAWA is vital to the ability of Maryland rape crisis centers to respond to sexual assault survivors. We thank all the Maryland leaders, victims, survivors, advocates, and others who reached out to their members of Congress to support this reauthorization. Additionally, on March 24th, Governor Hogan added $35 million to the state budget to supplement VOCA funds, heading off the pending crisis and closing the FY23 gap in victim services funding. This addition is expected to be enough to prevent all the looming cuts to services. Thank you to everyone who contacted the Governor and the members of the Maryland General Assembly to advocate for survivors. You have made a difference in our efforts to end sexual violence in Maryland.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), a time to raise awareness of sexual violence, show support for survivors, and promote the importance of prevention and education in our communities. Again this year, we invite you to add your voice to our ‘Moments Create Movements’ campaign, where we will highlight the ways Marylanders contribute to prevention every day. We will also be spotlighting the amazing work of student groups on our podcast MCASA On the Go throughout April. In this edition's Student Spotlight, we interview University of Maryland College Park student leaders of Preventing Sexual Assault (PSA) to learn more about their initiatives and upcoming SAAM events. Check out MCASA’s Prevention Corner and our SAAM Page for more updates on this year’s SAAM activities.
Also featured in this month’s edition, we define online sexual harassment and share tools and tips to enhance online safety in our Survivor Safety column. In addition, we provide an analysis of Higher Education Mandated Sexual Assault Prevention Training in our College Consortium column. Next, we discuss the intersections of Asexuality and sexual assault and break down barriers and misconceptions to providing supportive measures to Asexual survivors in an article titled Sexual Violence Against the Asexual Community. Finally, we are excited to highlight the incredible work of Sexual Assault/Spouse Abuse Resource Center (SARC) of Harford County in this edition’s Program Spotlight.
We invite you to join us in our efforts to end sexual violence this SAAM. Becoming a member is an excellent way to support survivors in Maryland and support our legislative efforts. You can also make a donation and help us serve Maryland survivors.
Lisae Jordan, Esq.
Executive Director & Counsel
Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault