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Read our latest newsletter: February 2017.

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"I spoke out to put a face to the issue for the millions of women, men and children who suffer in silence and to say that you are not alone. Help is available." ~ Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Councilor (Photo by Christopher Mason)

Upskirting just a modern-day technologically oriented term for old-fashioned sexual harassment

Sexual violence advocates applauded the quick response by the Legislature and Governor to address the legal loophole that allowed voyeuristic behavior which undermines the safety, privacy and dignity of people in public places to go unpunished.

"What's been termed "upskirting" is no more than a modern-day technologically oriented term for old-fashioned sexual harassment," said Maureen Gallagher, Policy Director of Jane Doe Inc. 

Gallagher noted that right before Speaker Robert A. DeLeo committed to addressing this issue, he was standing before 500 people - mostly men - in Gardner Auditorium in the State House, taking the pledge to be part of the solution in ending violence against women as part of Jane Doe Inc.'s annual Massachusetts White Ribbon Day Campaign event.  The purpose of the campaign is to shift the social norms that reinforce attitudes and cultural beliefs as well institutionalized policies and practices that contribute to violence against women and all forms of sexual and domestic violence.

Advocates pointed out that "upskirting" is part of what is referred to as "rape culture."  Gallagher said, "In a "rape culture" individual acts of voyeurism, sexual assault or rape are prevalent and pervasive  and contribute to victim blaming and lack of accountability for perpetrators."

"Rape culture" is a set of attitudes and values that hold rape and sexual violence against women as a fact of life and are inevitable.  When sexual violence is considered the norm, people aren't taught not to rape but are taught not to be raped.  Rape culture perpetuates the notion that the only type of rape thathappens is when a woman is randomly attacked by a stranger hiding in the bushes. While this does happen, it's not the only way or most common way that that sexual violence occurs.

The most common misperception is that only evil, violent men are capable of rape and sexual assault. The reality is that most perpetrators are known to the victim and are people we know.

Local sexual violence programs and rape crisis centers work every day to change rape culture and to support survivors.  They offer free and confidential services for survivors, friends and family members as well as conducting educational and community organizing activities. 

Gallagher concluded, "The quick action by the Legislature and Governor prove that we can address sexual violence and make our communities safer."

For comments or analysis from Jane Doe Inc. and/or a local rape crisis center, please contact Toni Troop at 617-212-7571 or ttroop@janedoe.org. 



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