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Biden urges U.S. colleges do more to prevent sexual assaults

Source: Reuters - Tue, 29 Apr 2014 22:08 GMT
Author: Reuters
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In this 2012 file photo, students take their seats for the diploma ceremony at the John F. Kennedy School of Government during the 361st Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts REUTERS/Brian Snyder
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WASHINGTON, April 29 (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden used some dramatic anecdotes on Tuesday to urge colleges and universities to do more to prevent rape and sexual assault on their campuses.

Unveiling a White House report with recommendations on what campuses can do to address the issue, Biden said frequently the assailant is someone known to the victim. He told an example involving a young woman who was pulled into a dorm room and raped by a man that she knew.

"No man has a right under any circumstance other than self defense, no man has a right ever to raise his hand to a woman, period, end of story. It is assault, if they do," said Biden. "To get that through to our daughters, and our sisters, and our friends, is still such a culturally difficult thing to do."

"I can't say often enough it doesn't matter what coat she was wearing, whether she drank too much, whether it was in the back of a car, in her room, on the street, it does not matter. It does not matter if she initially said yes and changed her mind and said no. No means no, wherever it is stated," said Biden.

The White House report encourages schools to conduct a survey to identify the scope of the problem on their campuses, create confidential places for victims to seek support and initiate training programs for school officials who work with victims.

The report said one in five women is sexually assaulted while attending college, most often in her first or second year of study. Usually the perpetrator is known to her and more often than not the assault goes unreported.

The report came after a three-month study by a task force established by President Barack Obama in January to help identify ways to protect students from sexual violence.

Administration officials said a wide range of colleges and universities participated in the process that led to the recommendations.

The White House noted that sexual assault on college campuses is not directed solely at women. Men, to a lesser extent, are victims as well, it said.

Biden said he has raised this issue in talking to men's' audiences in the past. He said he has told them:

"How many of you men in here saw the movie, 'Deliverance'? I know what scene you remembered, right? How many of you would walk out of the woods and report, 'I've been raped'? Most men say I'd go out and get my gun and come back and take care of it. Give me a break," he said.

Biden noted the presence at the event of Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, a Democrat who Biden said was raised in Scranton like him.

"And the neighborhood Bobby and I were raised in, I want you all to listen to this, if a man raised his hand to a woman, you had the job to kick the living crap out of him if he did it. Excuse my language," he said.

"Now I realize that's not very presidential or vice presidential. But it's something every man should begin to understand," Biden added. (Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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