[1]We demand an end to all forms of violence against women.
This is just the beginning of a list of demands that participants in Take Back the Night 2006 will shout in the annual march around MSU’s campus and the East Lansing community. On April 11, the daylong event will take place at Beaumont Field and the MSU Union. Since 1973, this day has been celebrated around the world to raise awareness about violence against women and to empower the community. The event also celebrates survivors of such violence and demands that the community recognize sexual violence as a major problem: on this campus, in this community, in this society. It demands that women be able to walk safely in the streets, live in their own houses without fear and have safe workplaces and communities.
Sexual violence is a problem that concerns all people, not just women. Although women are generally the survivors of rapes and sexual assaults, it is not up to women alone to eradicate this violence. Men also are affected by rape. They may be survivors themselves or have mothers, sisters or friends that have been assaulted. Furthermore, the gender roles to which our society ascribes may make men feel that they have to be violent and demeaning toward women in order to be masculine. Thus, it is especially powerful when men can stand up against these misguided notions and work alongside women to end the violence. Society as a whole must change its attitude and realize that women can\’t be subjected to these misogynistic acts. This includes community members, politicians, professors, students, campus leaders, police officers, emergency response teams, attorneys — women and men alike.
As it stands right now, our culture perpetuates sexist beliefs that blame the survivors of sexual assault instead of the rightful owners of the violence: the perpetrators themselves.
In our society, sexual assault is a major problem. According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, a sexual assault occurs every two and a half minutes in the United States. Most of these sexual assaults are not committed by strangers on the street, but by people the survivors know and trust.
[2]This is an issue that affects people of all races, sexual orientations, ethnicities and genders. Rape is not about sex; rape is about power. This power has been wielded too often by men attempting to degrade women, and is upheld in our criminal justice system and social policy. We often blame the survivors for what they were wearing, what they were drinking and where they were. This ignores one glaring fact: no one deserves to be sexually assaulted. The only person responsible for rape is the perpetrator. Unfortunately, many survivors do not feel the support from the community, but instead feel alienated and blamed. It’s no wonder so many survivors stay silent about the sexual assaults and do not report the violence.
These are some reasons that it is important to increase the knowledge around sexual assault. Take Back the Night is a great opportunity to inform yourself and others about violence against women and to begin your own fight against this prevalent form of sexism. The day is full of consciousness-raising activities and forums to support women and discuss the issue of violence. The Clothesline Project in Beaumont Field and the Silent Silhouettes Display in the MSU Union illustrate the effects of sexual, physical and domestic violence. In Beaumont Field, a speak-out is planned as a forum for those who wish to share views about violence. Throughout the day, sexual assault counselors will be available to talk to survivors. At night there will be a women’s-only space allocated for a candlelight vigil to commemorate all the survivors of violence. At the same time, a men’s forum will take place where men in the community can come together and discuss their relation to the violence, their experiences, their solutions and their purpose in this crusade. The culmination of the day is at 8 p.m. when women and men will march together throughout the campus and city to 54B District Court to advocate for a society that does not condone violence against women.
This day is a powerful event that attempts to include the entire community in the statement: Break the Silence, End the Violence.

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