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A Bill of Silencing Victims

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Jandi Rychter

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In the state of Georgia, a bill is in the works to pass the limiting of procedures and investigations for sexual assaults on college campuses. HB 51 is the bill to “protect” college students who are “claimed” to have assaulted a student on campus from being kicked out or given disciplinary actions until proven guilty in criminal court. HB 51 also prevents the college from further investigations, and reroute to law enforcement.  If the HB 51 is passed, Title IX, a bill that protects victims on campus and takes immediate action when someone has been assaulted, would no longer work separately from other felony cases.

This bill might cause survivors to not report their assault at all if they know they won’t be immediately protected . HB 51 wants to require someone who is in crisis to immediately report the incident to law enforcement. Some victims may not be ready to describe what just happened, being in complete shock, traumatized by what has happened, as well as being emotionally unstable. The positive outlook of going to authorities right away is getting possible DNA from a rape kit and getting started on the justice every survivor deserves.

I had the honor to interview a former student of Georgia state, Chelsea Hoag from Atlanta, Georgia. Hoag is an activist and journalist in her community. She has spoken out by hash-tagging HB51 in a photo on her Instagram with a caption challenging the bill. While  talking with Hoag, she said she believes this bill is unnecessary. Earl Ehrhart, the man pushing for the bill to be passed, is a Republican Politician from Georgia who, in Hoag’s opinion, “has no business pushing a bill of that nature.” She continues that “this bill discourages victims from being vocal about their rapist.”

A traumatizing event happened to Hoag when she was twenty one years of age. Hoag was raped, not on college campus, however. She went to Grady Hospital to get a rape kit done. A rape kit is forensic evidence against an offender if DNA is found. For Chelsea, her rapist’s DNA was found in her. Chelsea went to the Atlanta Police Department, and they told her it was a “he said-she said” situation. Since there were no witnesses, they dropped her case. Chelsea Hoag’s experience is one of many cases that have been dropped and haven’t gotten the justice they deserved due to the lack of protection for victims.

HB51 will be a bill that stretches out a traumatizing event for victims.  While it may be to protect people who are falsely accused, every accusation should be taken seriously and immediately until the offender is proven innocent or guilty. Actual victims shouldn’t be punished for false statements. A sexual assault can make the victims self-esteem decrease as well as their mental health, and if Law Enforcement or Colleges don’t act immediately it can invalidate the truth of such traumatizing experiences.

 

 

 

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