With scant days separating us from the 2016 presidential election, an unexpected discussion over what constitutes sexual assault now dominates the news cycle.
In a radio interview on Monday, former Minnesota Representative and staunch Republican Michele Bachman spoke about sexual assault during a radio interview — and pinned her concerns on women's rights activist and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She said she worried that her now-likely presidency would lead to more sexual assaults "because she will be setting an anti-biblical agenda."
Her ill-supported hypothesis stands in stark contrast with the increasing number of women, including a reporter for People Magazine, who have come forward with actual allegations of sexual assault from Donald Trump, despite facing brutal opposition on and off social media, where a number of Twitter users have labeled their experiences as "fake." At least one senator said that he wouldn't "characterize" a description of assault as sexual assault — which seemed to betray a wildly inaccurate understanding of the term.
But perhaps the most honest tweet about the allegations, which came to light during a contentious election, is this one from Mic's Emily Cahn:
Let's be clear — consent is not a Democratic or a Republican issue. Sexual assaults can occur in both red and blue states, and that's an issue we should address, not politicize.
And there is a universally accepted definition of sexual assault, regardless of who you're voting for. According to the Department of Justice's website, sexual assault is "any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient."
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, an American is sexually assaulted every 109 seconds. However, only 6 out of every 1,000 perpetrators are imprisoned for the crime. The low incarceration rate can partially be explained by the discouraging way survivors are treated when they report their assault. As a result, roughly 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. And while the number is still disputed, it has been estimated that very few are falsely reported.
So let's reach across the aisle and work together to protect survivors. This isn't about the presidency: this is about human decency.
Cover image via arindambanerjee / Shutterstock.com.