Biden Talks About Rape Kit Initiative the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI)

RAINN UPDATE 

(March 19, 2015) — “Testing rape kits should be an absolute priority for the United States,” declared Vice President Joe Biden after touring a Maryland State Police crime lab responsible for analyzing evidence for crimes of sexual assault.

Biden was in Baltimore to draw attention to the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI), which will award up to $24 million to local law enforcement agencies working to test rape kits and investigate open cases.

President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget proposal also includes $20 million for backlog-related research at the Justice Department, and $105 million for reducing the DN A backlog and related purposes. Rebecca O’Connor, RAINN vice president for public policy, and Smith have been lobbying Congress to communicate the importance of not cutting funding. “At a time when the national spotlight is trained on the rape kit backlog and efforts to move more rape kits from law enforcement evidence rooms to public crime labs for testing, it’s imperative that Congress provide at least level funding for this critical program.”

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who joined Biden, urged the public to remember that “behind every kit, there’s a victim, and behind every victim there’s a predator. When you get a predator off the street, you not only do justice to the victim, but [prevent “future crimes].” Mikulski is the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Rape survivors Debbie Smith, after whom the primary federal DNA law is named, and Helena Lazaro joined the political leaders at the press conference.

Biden, a lead sponsor of the Debbie Smith Act, noted that he can still remember the day Smith told her story to a Senate committee in 2004, spurring Congress to act to reduce the testing backlog.

The vice president noted that SAKI is intended to complement the Debbie Smith Act and the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Report (SAFER) Act, passed by Congress as part of the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

SAFER, which requires that at least 75% of DNA funds go towards reducing the backlog and will help law enforcement agencies audit their unsubmitted rape kits, is awaiting implementation by the Justice Department.

Also pending are details of a national grant initiative announced by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., last year. The DA pledged $35 million in funding to help jurisdictions working to address backlogged kits.

President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget proposal also includes $20 million for backlog-related research at the Justice Department, and $105 million for reducing the DN A backlog and related purposes. Rebecca O’Connor, RAINN vice president for public policy, and Smith have been lobbying Congress to communicate the importance of not cutting funding. “At a time when the national spotlight is trained on the rape kit backlog and efforts to move more rape kits from law enforcement evidence rooms to public crime labs for testing, it’s imperative that Congress provide at least level funding for this critical program.”

 

RAPE IS NOT OK Petitioning Mary Fallin Hear Oklahoma House Bill 1362

Change.org Petetition

https://www.change.org/p/mary-fallin-hear-oklahoma-house-bill-1362

We are a group of mothers, fathers, students, and concerned citizens in Oklahoma. We urgently need your help to make sure that a crucial bill to help stop the rape and victimization of young girls in our state is heard in the Oklahoma State House. HB 1362 is a vital bill that will make sure that victims have support, that school officials are trained to handle these situations, and that our students are effectively taught about consent and proper boundaries. It is essential that this bill is passed, not just for the safety of Oklahoma’s students, but also as a signal to the rest of the country that this type of legislation is needed to protect all of our young people.
House Bill 1362 successfully made it out of the Common Education Committee on Tuesday, February 24th — but now the real fight begins. The next step is a vote on the house floor, and if the bill is voted down it will be two more years before this essential legislation can be reintroduced.
Last fall, we organized the group Yes All Daughters after three teenage girls in our hometown of Norman, OK were raped by the same classmate and then bullied out of school after they reported their assaults.We organized a peaceful protest and the school district responded by creating a task force to address issues related to victimization and bullying. The perpetrator was arrested following our protest and is currently awaiting trial on First Degree Rape charges.
HB 1362 was introduced as a direct result of the assaults on these three girls, and our work to bring their stories to light. But the work is not done. There is no guarantee that the Oklahoma State House will pass this legislation, even though the rape and sexual assault of minors is still an enormous problem in Oklahoma.
Last week, in the town just over from Norman, four more students (all aged 18 and 19) were arrested for the alleged gang rape of a girl under the age of 16. We cannot continue to let this problem go unchecked in our state.
Girls ages 16-19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault, yet this bill was not on the agenda until our last-ditch effort compelled legislators to read it in committee. We must demand that House Bill 1362 become a priority among the Oklahoma State Legislators.

Sign the petition. Stand with us against sexual violence.
No more silence. No more shame.

 

Vote for stronger punishment against Domestic Violence in South Carolina–Pass Bill S3

Change.org Petition    

 https://www.change.org/p/south-carolina-state-senate-take-action-to-save-victims-of-domestic-violence?

Vote for stronger punishment against Domestic Violence in South Carolina

My name is Melissa Davis Walker, I am a survivor of domestic violence and I am tired of living in a state with the highest rate of domestic violence in the country. We need laws that protect victims from the people that abuse them. Currently, the laws are failing victims and they make little sense. First time offenses hold a 30 day sentence. But if you beat a dog, you could get up to 5 years. Tell Governor Nikki Haley and the South Carolina legislature that victims deserve stronger laws that protect them from the threat of domestic violence, pass Bill S3.

For 13 years, my five children and I lived in fear. My husband threatened, beat and choked me for the duration of our marriage, and I felt like the law couldn’t protect me. It was only when my son bravely confided in a school official after my husband pointed a loaded shotgun at his head, that we finally got the legal support we needed to put him behind bars. If he had only been charged for attacking me, he would be walking free today, and I might not be here to tell my story.

South Carolina is ground zero in the domestic violence fight. The toll of domestic violence is especially high on women. The state has the highest rate of female murders at the hands of men in the country, most attributed to domestic violence. Last year South Carolina’s murder rate for women was more than double that of the nation. Despite all this, there are few resources for victims of domestic violence and lax laws to punish their abusers.

The state is considering a bill that will require harsher punishments for offenders in the hopes of stemming the cycle of abuse. Bill S3 will allow the government to base punishment not on the number of times a person has committed the crime, but on the severity of the injury caused to the victim. No longer would a first time offense put you behind bars for a mere 30 days with a chance at release after serving just 15.

We must make sure this becomes law. Our laws reflect our values, and currently, our values are not adequately represented in our legal system. This doesn’t just reflect poorly on the state of South Carolina, but nationally, as domestic violence is a serious issue all throughout the United States. Victims’ lives must be protected and this law is a step towards that. Tell Gov. Nikki Haley and the South Carolina Legislature that women matter, pass Bill S3.

LETTER TO
South Carolina State Senate
Take action to save victims of domestic violence.

Don’t allow our daughter to be segregated because of her Down Syndrome

Change.org Petition
Petitioning Andrew Eulass, Michelle Gallo, Dr. Paul Gordon
Don’t allow our daughter to be segregated because of her Down Syndrome

The first thing you might notice about our daughter Hiba is that she has Down syndrome. But to those who know her, Hiba is a beautiful, intelligent, and compassionate 9-year-old. She loves math and her favorite show is “Doc McStuffins.” If you ask Hiba what she wants to be when she grows up, she will tell you “a doctor.” This is not surprising considering how much she loves helping people. As her parents, we see a child with all the potential of any other child. Unfortunately, her school system has kept Hiba segregated from other students and it has taken its toll on her education and spirit. All they seem to see is a child with Down syndrome.

Down syndrome does not define our daughter. We are asking Glen Ellyn School District 41 to allow Hiba her legal right to be fully integrated and allowed to learn alongside “typical” students at Churchill Elementary.
For the past 5 years, Hiba’s education has been spent in isolated, 1-on-1 settings. It has been painful to watch Hiba not be responsive to this education approach. She has become depressed, withdrawn, and as a result, hasn’t performed well in her studies. Hiba knows she is being treated differently and separated from the “normal” kids.
Districts across the US have diversified the classroom to include both children with disabilities and those considered “typical” for the past few decades. Education research and organizations like the National Down Syndrome Society endorse full inclusion in education settings. This approach would allow Hiba to be fully integrated into the general education classroom with her “typical” peers the entire school day. She would be learning the same things, but with a modified lesson plan, technology support, and 1:1 aide in the classroom. This plan would be developed by a well-known inclusion specialist. We know this is the best approach for Hiba.
Educational inclusion won’t just benefit Hiba. When children with disabilities are educated alongside their “typical” peers, research shows academic and social benefits for everyone. True acceptance of diversity begins in the school environment. It is then carried out in the home, workplace, and community.
Glen Ellyn School District 41 insists this is not the best approach for Hiba. They point to how she has behaved and performed in the isolated classroom. School officials can’t see these are symptoms of being segregated and exactly why Hiba belongs in a classroom with her “typical” peers. This is why we started the petition. We need you to help Hiba get in a classroom setting where she will thrive. Your voice can make all the difference.
Our dream is for Hiba to be afforded all the same opportunities as everyone else so she can achieve her full potential and be a kind, active member of society. Please sign and share our petition calling on Glen Ellyn School District 41 to allow Hiba to be fully included and allowed to learn alongside “typical” students at Churchill Elementary.

Sign Saadia’s petition

https://www.change.org/p/illinois-state-board-of-education-michelle-gallo-dr-paul-gordon-allow-our-9-year-old-daughter-with-down-syndrome-access-to-her-home-school?

BRING BACK OUR CHIBOK GIRLS–ONE YEAR LATER

Please read the update on the Chibok, Nigerian girls. We are reaching the year mark of the 275 school girls being kidnapped by terrorist group BoKo Haram. Look in your heart to see how you can help. Thank you.

PETITION UPDATE

Our Chibok Girls – One Year Later

Ify Elueze
Bonn, Germany
Mar 31, 2015 — On Tuesday, April 14, it’ll be one year since our Chibok Girls were abducted. Lend your voice so we can connect supporters of our Chibok Girls in different communities around the world for coördinated action.

This is obviously a critical time in our advocacy to amplify our voices and remind the world that they are yet to be rescued. Our Chibok Girls have received support from ALL over the world and we need to harness all the support to build a powerful VOICE for them.

Our girls NEED us to keep the pressure on. If you would like to participate in an event, host an event in your city, or would like to be connected with others, please fill in the form on the official BBOG Nigeria website – http://www.bbogfamily.ng

Thank you.
The BBOG Family
On Tuesday, April 14, 2015, it’ll be one year since our Chibok Girls were abducted. Lend your voice so we can…
HTTP://WWW.BBOGFAMILY.NG

Throwback Thursday *Best of Queen plus Queen with Paul Rogers*

I hope you enjoy the tunes this week, both are favorites of mine. Kick back in comfy chair, something smooth to drink and enjoy the memories. Queen was a favorite of mine, Freddie with his theatrics. Bad Company still in top 5 all time bands, Paul Rogers voice fits perfectly with the band. I respect him for having the courage to follow Freddie. There is only one Freddie Mercury and only one Paul Rogers. I am thankful to hear and watch both.    XO  Warrior