Government Says Don’t Teach Coeds Techniques Proven to Slash Date Rapes, Says Professor John Banzhaf

A New Study in the New England Journal of Medicine Suggests Why Many Campus Date Rapes Occur, and Provides a Simple Way to Slash the Number, but the Federal Government and Others Object Because Women Might Somehow be Blamed.

Washington, DC, June 29, 2015 --( A new study, published in the prestigious peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine (NEJ), shows how to slash campus acquaintance rapes almost 50% by, as U.S. News described it, primarily teaching young women how to "resist unwanted sexual behaviors and practice verbally resisting."

While many might think the program it describes should be embraced as the one technique which has been proven to actually reduce rapes, it is instead creating controversy, with many - including the federal government - denouncing it, notes public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

For example, The federal Centers of Disease Control (CDC) is very critical of the entire approach, because it says, in a NEJ piece: "Its primary weakness is that it places the onus for prevention on potential victims, possibly obscuring the responsibility of perpetrators and others."

The CDC then asks, in the same NEJ piece: "What happens when women who complete the intervention cannot successfully resist rape?" and goes on to suggest other approaches, none of which reportedly have been shown to be effective. As the New York Times notes, this new technique is a "rare success."

Interestingly, the federal government still refuses to fund, even on an experimental basis, educational programs aimed at reducing campus rapes if they include a component trying to educate women about not drinking to excess. Such programs are "out of scope," the Office of Violence Against Women says on its web site, because they might make women who pass out and believe they have been raped feel guilty.

But the Washington Post just reported on a joint Kaiser Family Foundation poll which shows that most campus sexual assaults occur when students are intoxicated, and that students agree with experts that reducing drinking would reduce sexual assaults.

Indeed, a Risk Research Bulletin put out by insurance company United Educators (UE) shows that, in 92% of date rape claims with losses, the accuser was under the influence of alcohol, and "more than 60 percent of accusers were so intoxicated that they had no clear memory of the assault."

Regarding the NEJ study about the value of "verbally resisting," New York magazine reports that "many people oppose the approach, arguing that the onus shouldn’t be on women to prevent sexual assault."

Similarly, The Guardian argues that “In a world where rape victims are routinely blamed for violence perpetrated against them, sending the message that stopping rape is women’s work is a slippery slope.”

But, by this logic, argues Banzhaf, we should not teach freshmen how to lock up their bicycles or not to leave their laptop computers unattended, even if the lessons reduce bicycle and laptop thefts by almost 50%, because, if a bicycle or laptop gets stolen, the student may blame herself.

Instead, many seemingly argue, the only tactics which should be used are those which don't even indirectly cast any blame on the student - for example, educational programs aimed at deterring potential rapists (like saying "don't steal bicycles") or encouraging bystanders to intervene in date rape situations (like "do something if you see a bike being stolen"), says Banzhaf.

But bicycles and laptop computers are frequently stolen on campus, which is why many universities try to teach incoming students how to lock up their bicycles effectively, and not to place their laptop computers in situations where the risk of theft is significant, notes Banzhaf.

So, he says, it seems the height of political correctness, and one which this study strongly suggests increases the percentage of rapes by almost 100%, not to teach freshman women how to say "no" loudly, clearly, and effectively - not crying or pleading, as the study's authors claim in their article often happens - and how to avoid high risk situations.

If almost 50% of campus rapes occur because women for whatever reasons do not "resist unwanted sexual behaviors and practice verbally resisting" when the aggressor is known to them - as they do in stranger-rape situations, as the NEJ article reports - the obvious remedy is to teach them how to do it, says Banzhaf.
George Washington University Law School
Public Interest Law Professor John Banzhaf
202 994-7229 // 703 527-8418