I want to inspire Americans to care about reducing sexual assault, to help victims, and to change legislation with a focus on consent. I have chosen to focus on the actions of FATTA as an example of what can be done here in the USA.
FATTA is a Swedish non-profit organization that fights against sexual violence and strongly advocates for consent in everyday life. FATTA started when three men who were suspected of raping a 15-year-old girl with a glass bottle had been released by the Umea District Court. The men were released due to the fact that the girl pushed her legs together and this was considered being modest by the court and not rape.
According to Girls Globe, in 2012, there were 16,700 reported cases of sexual offenses in Sweden and of these cases, 98% of the offenders are men and 95% of the victims are women. This has put the Swedish sexual assault legalization on the edge. According to BRA, a Swedish crime statistic site, in 2016, there was a reduction in reported assaults at 10,500 incidents of sexual molestation. In my view, FATTA and their fight to shift Swedish culture to consent culture could be the cause of the reduction of cases.
According to Girls Globe, n.d., in Sweden, a crime of rape is defined as:
“A person who by assault or otherwise by violence or by threat of a criminal act forces another person to have sexual intercourse or to undertake or endure another sexual act that, having regard to the nature of the violation and the circumstances in general, is comparable to sexual intercourse, shall be sentenced for rape to imprisonment for at least two and at most six years.”
- FATTA found the definition of rape and recent events troubling since it put more emphasis on the victim rather than the rapist. So, in response to these troubling things, the FATTA founders decided to focus on changing social norms and created a consent law which was released January of 2016. According to the FATTA website, the consent law was released to government officials in the hopes of getting the law passed. In addition, FATTA has started FATTA Man, which focuses on men and their role in changing social norms regarding consent since rape can be seen as a women’s issue. 98% percent of men are found to be perpetrators.
- FATTA has been socially supported in Sweden. In result, consent and reducing sexual assault has become important. For example, a popular music festival that had a high number of assaults in the past was canceled for the upcoming year. In fact, Mumford and Sons, a band, refused to play at the concert until something was done to reduce the sexual assaults.
FATTA has shown to cause change and start a discussion in Sweden. We in America can try to do something similar as well. According to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, December 2016, in Iowa law, sexual abuse occurs when one person engages in a sex act with another person in any of the following circumstances:
- The sex act is done by force, threat of violence toward any person, or against the will of the other person. It’s considered against a person’s will if he or she is under the influence of a sleep-inducing drug or otherwise unconscious.
- The other person has a mental defect that makes him or her unable to give consent, or lacks the mental capacity to understand the right and wrong of conduct in sexual matters. The other person is a child.
Consent is not specifically defined in Iowa law. There are ages of consent, but nothing to define consent. This is our own home and we do not have consent defined. In fact, according to the Des Moines Register, November 2016, Des Moines has been identified as one of the top 100 places for sex trafficking. Iowa has an issue dealing with sexual assault and we can do something about it.
In the USA, every 8 minutes the victim of sexual assault is a child. And overall, only 6 out of every 1,000 perpetrators are convicted. On average, American Indians ages 12 and older experience 5,900 sexual assaults per year. According to Professor Jen Coppac at Iowa State University in American Indian Studies 1 in 3 American Indian women are victims of sexual assault.
So, what? Don’t these people just move on with their life? *Yes, people ask this!* it is not an easy answer to give since every victim is different, but NO, it’s not that easy! Sexual assault negatively affects victims. According to RAINN, 94% of women who have been raped experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 30% of women report symptoms of PTSD 9 months after the rape. 33% of women who are raped contemplate suicide. 13% of women who are raped attempt suicide 6 times more and likely to use cocaine. Victims are 10 times more likely to use other major drugs.
Rapists are the men “we” know. Men who rape are not always in the shadows, they are our family, coworkers, and friends. This is why consent and focusing on educating men is important.
Because of these troubling statistics, there is something that we can do in the USA to reduce sexual assault. First, we can start by taking the example from FATTA by talking to men, providing education in schools, and creating a consent law. In order to do this, we can start talking to those around us, we can lobby to our legislatures, and work to create an organization similar to FATTA here in the USA. FATTA was created by groups of people and celebrities that wanted to help sexual assault victims. To gain momentum, we can use the phrase it’s a party of consent in the USA to start conversations. This may help in gaining potential celebrity and social support. Secondly, we can start conversations in our home as well as with our legislative to create change. To start conversations with legislatures, we can set up appointments for face to face communication or have computer-mediated communication. Please visit https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials to find your legislatures information. We can inspire Americans to care about reducing sexual assault, to help victims, and to change legislation with a focus on consent, remember, it’s a party of consent in the USA.
Thank you for reading. I look forward to working together to reduce sexual assault.
Keep Elizabeth Writing
“Brett Och Station.” BRÅ – Brottsförebyggande Rådet. N.p., n.d. Web.
Enqvist, Anna Falgén, María Rendo, Kupona Foundation, Shakira Choonara, and Gendercide Awareness Project. “FATTA: A Campaign That Inspires Change.” Girls’ Globe. N.p., 18 Mar. 2014. Web.
From Rape Culture to Consent Culture. FATTA, fatta.nu/.
Halpin, Hayley. “Swedish Music Festival Cancelled for 2018 following Rape and Sexual Assault Reports.” TheJournal.ie. N.p., n.d. Web.
Rood, Lee. “Des Moines Identified as Top 100 Human Trafficking Site.” Des Moines Register. Des Moines Register, 16 Nov. 2016. Web.
“Statistics.” Statistics | RAINN. N.p., n.d. Web.
“Tea Consent (Clean).” YouTube. YouTube, 13 May 2015. Web.