Women’s safety should focus efforts on proactive answers

Despite UK’s attempts over the last several years to curtail violence against women on campus, the situation is just as dangerous as it has been.

A recent survey reported in the Kernel on Sept. 5 showed the percentage of women who feel safe on UK’s campus has nearly doubled since 2004. But the percentage of women who have experienced some sort of violence directed toward them has stagnated at 34.1 percent, down just 2.4 percentage points from 2004. And the Kernel reported that the drop was not statistically significant enough to say that fewer women are being victimized at UK, said Carol Jordan, the director of the UK Center for Research on Violence Against Women, which conducted both studies.

Fewer women are worried about the possibility of violence directed toward them and therefore, they are less likely to be on guard against potential dangers.

On a positive note, UK should be pleased that nearly four times the number of women are reporting rape crimes as compared to three years ago, according to the report. Yet, according to the survey, only 9.1 percent of all rapes are reported, a figure that is far from ideal.

All improvements in the number of women reporting rape crimes can be attributed to the proactive, educational policies of institutions such as the Center for Research on Violence Against Women at UK.

In the past, UK has remained purely reactive in the struggle to end violence against women, neglecting areas of education and preventative reform. Education of the general population is the only way to show women how to protect themselves from potentially dangerous situations. It is also the only means of eradicating the social acceptability of behaving violently towards women.

Students can appreciate improved lighting on campus as well as additional patrols by UK police as part of initiatives to increase safety. However, women must be made aware of the fact that the majority of violence against women is committed by someone whom the victim knows, the Kernel reported in the Sept. 5 article.

While the increase in the number of women feeling safe can be linked to the decrease of highly publicized assaults by unknown perpetrators, it is important for UK and its students to remember that violence against women continues to remain largely unreported and is often committed off-campus.

Just like UK, students should take a proactive, rather than reactive, stance on violence directed toward women. Yes, walking in groups and avoiding certain areas late at night can help. However, increasing educational programming on the subject, interrupting potentially violent situations, reporting incidents of violence against women and creating an environment where it is unacceptable to treat women violently are just a few of the much larger steps toward making safety for women a reality rather than an illusion.