We have finally put a close to 2020, a singularly challenging year that left us grappling with a global pandemic, a reckoning on racial justice in the U.S., and a turbulent election. We start 2021 with these ongoing challenges but with hope that we can move forward, heal, and grow. MCASA will be moving forward by continuing to advocate for legislation that promotes justice for survivors of sexual violence, accountability for offenders, and protection for the general public in the 2021 Maryland Legislative Session.
The 2021 session will have tremendous challenges as the General Assembly strives to keep members, staff, and the public safe from COVID-19, and works to address the budgetary fall-out from the pandemic as well as the long overdue opportunities for meaningful reforms to address racial injustice. Two of our major priorities will be fighting to ensure full funding for Maryland’s Rape Crisis and Recovery Centers and for the Maryland Legal Services Corporation, which funds civil legal services for survivors. Service providers have struggled with continued heavy demand and resources stretched increasingly thin, so it is essential they are fully funded in 2021 to continue their essential work.
We are also continuing to fight to remove the archaic law that allows marriage to be used as a defense to some sex crimes, rooted in the sexist belief that a wife is property and that consent to marriage is consent to sex. In addition, we will be supporting efforts to reform law enforcement. Current law prohibits law enforcement from sexual activity with people in custody or who are incarcerated; we are supporting a bill to extend this prohibition to include sexual activity with someone law enforcement is investigating or assisting. Women of color and poor women face exploitation and higher rates of mistreatment by law enforcement, and it is critical that reform efforts include ending racism experienced by victims. To support us in our legislative efforts, please join MCASA at our Annual Legislative Reception! Click here to find out more.
This edition of Frontline includes a full copy of our legislative priorities. In addition, we are featuring some of the other exciting work we are doing, including our new partnership to advance Hotspot Mapping prevention strategies in our College Consortium and our new “SAKI Opt-in Information Line” as part of our Sexual Assault Kit Initiative. We are sharing highlights from our first virtual Maryland WOCN Conference, and will discuss the prevention benefits of comprehensive sexual education in Prevention Corner. And, as usual, we are happy to highlight another of our amazing Rape Crisis and Recovery Centers; in this issue we are featuring the Southern Maryland Center for Family Advocacy and the fantastic work they are doing.
We invite you to join us in our efforts to end sexual violence:
Together we can end sexual violence.
Lisae Jordan, Esq.
Executive Director & Counsel
Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault