It seems that everywhere we turn lately, people are talking about sexual assault. That is very exciting, but it is not enough. Talk is cheap. It is time to turn the national conversation about sexual harassment and assault with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements into action and policy change. January marked the beginning of a new legislative session here in Maryland and we’re determined to make progress for sexual assault survivors. Over the course of the next 90 days, we will be working tirelessly in Annapolis to advocate for survivors and push for policies that help end sexual violence.
#TimesUp for legislators who drag their feet and refuse to pass policies that support sexual assault survivors. The Rape Survivor Family Protection Act (HB1/SB2) is a top legislative priority this year. Our legislature failed to pass this bill for the NINTH time during the 2017 session; and we were not willing to let that turn into ten times this year. Thrillingly, the Rape Survivor Family Protection Act has already passed both chambers of the General Assembly and is poised to become law, thanks to the diligent efforts of lead sponsors Delegates Kathleen Dumais and Nicholaus Kipke, and House Speaker Michael E. Busch; and Senators Brian Feldman and Susan Lee, along with Senate President Mike Miller. This is the year we show rape survivors who become pregnant as a result of their attack that Maryland law will protect them. We will also advocate for bills that provide survivors with access to HIV prophylaxis when appropriate, a bill that codifies a fair process in college sexual assault proceedings, and a bill that aims to provide age-appropriate consent education to middle and high school students. These and other pieces of legislation can have a meaningful impact on the lives of sexual assault survivors throughout the state of Maryland, but we cannot do it alone. We need your help to make it happen.
The time is now to speak up for what is right. Your voice and your actions matter. So, what can you do right now? Check out our full legislative agenda on our website, and watch that space— we expect our agenda to grow throughout the coming months. During this legislative session, make your voice heard by contacting your legislators and urging them to support these important bills. To find your legislator, please click here. You can also become a member of MCASA or make a donation and #FundTheFight to help support our efforts in Annapolis as we advocate for survivor rights. Stay up to date with our advocacy work and our legislative priorities throughout session by joining our mailing list. Maryland’s legislative session is just 90 days long, and things can happen quickly; stay engaged in our advocacy and together we will make a difference for survivors.
In this issue, our Prevention Corner column discusses “sexual assault prevention products” that do not work, including products that claim to detect date rape drugs in drinks. In our College Consortium feature, we provide a look into MCASA’s latest College Consortium roundtable discussion on improving prevention and response efforts for traditionally underserved students. Our Program Spotlight features TurnAround, Inc. and the services they provide to sexual assault survivors in Baltimore City and Baltimore County.
Frontline’s Safety Sync column highlights connections between technology and sexual assault. In this quarter’s Safety Sync, we are excited to talk with Sharyn Potter, Executive Director of Research at Prevention Innovations Research Center at University of New Hampshire, about their new app uSafeUS.
Start your year by informing yourself and standing with us as we advocate for sexual assault survivors. Best wishes for 2018, and we hope to see you in Annapolis.
Lisae C. Jordan, Esq.
Executive Director & Counsel
Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault