Massachusetts Advocates Join in Solidarity with Holtzclaw Survivors
January 21, 2016
In solidarity with sexual assault and rape survivors everywhere, JDI has endorsed the National Ride for Justice in Oklahoma City, organized by the Black Women’s Blueprint to coincide with the sentencing of Daniel Holtzclaw on Thursday, January 21, 2016. Hundreds from across the country made the trip to Oklahoma to participate in this national event and to stand symbolically with every survivor.
Holtzclaw is the former Oklahoma City police officer who abused his power, position and privilege to target Black women and girls who he thought would not report and if they did would be viewed as less credible. Thirteen Black women testified against Holtzclaw who was found guilty of rape and other sexual offenses. It is estimated that Holtzclaw assaulted as many as 32 women while on duty, using his male and police authority to prey upon members of the African American community. Meanwhile, scant coverage has been given to this case in local and national media.
Debra J. Robbin, Executive Director of Jane Doe Inc., said, “As a coalition that actively works against racism and oppression, it’s imperative that we show support for these women and to call out the underlying injustice that puts Black women along with other women of color and marginalized communities at risk for sexual and other forms of violence. What happened is not unique to Oklahoma or simply a case of an individual man abusing his position of authority and privilege. This case is a watershed moment that has shone a light on how institutionalized and systemic violence is connected to issues of race and gender. We must listen to the survivors who bravely share their stories and do not allow their truth to remain silenced.”
Jane Doe Inc. has endorsed the National Ride for Justice to call for an end to the “dismissal and disdain against Black women sexually assaulted and brutalized” by those in positions of power and authority, as well as advocating for equitable representation in judicial proceedings, fair and accurate media reporting, access to services, shifts in social norms about gender-based violence, and accountability for police brutality and violence. Robbin added, “We know there are many allies and people within the police and criminal justice system who are mindful of these issues and working hard to be active bystanders and change the culture from within as well.”
Bedford Chief of Police Robert Bongiorno said, "Those working in public safety and law enforcement have a duty to protect people and apply the law equally, with no regard for race, gender, or creed. While the vast and overwhelming majority of police officers are the embodiment of professionalism and integrity, even one person violating that public trust is too many. I am proud to stand with Jane Doe on this issue."
Chief Bongiorno is an Ambassador for Jane Doe Inc.’s White Ribbon Day Campaign, which invites men to be part of the solution in ending gender-based violence by focusing on the root causes of oppression and abuse of power in relationships, institutions and society.
Recent studies confirm that in the United States Black women face a 22% higher rate of rape and attempted rape when compared with white women. An estimated 32.3% of multiracial women, 27.5% of American Indian/Alaska Native women, 21.2% of non-Hispanic black women, and 13.6% of Hispanic women were raped during their lifetimes compared to 20.5% of non-Hispanic white women (CDC’s 2011 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey). NISVS shows that lesbian, gay and bisexual people experience sexual violence at the same or higher rates as heterosexual people, however, the report had limited data on transgender and non-conforming people.
Jane Doe Inc. and its 56 member programs throughout Massachusetts advocate for the rights and needs of sexual assault and domestic violence survivors and the intersectional issues of racism and other forms of oppression. Free and confidential services for survivors of sexual violence and rape are available 24/7. Visit www.janedoe.org/find_help to connect with the program near you.
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