Sexual Assault on American Campuses: The Dark Side of University Life in the US

Posted on September 4, 2014


Recently, the sad plight of a Columbia student, Emma Sulkowicz who had been raped on campus was brought to light by her courageous quest for justice.  Since the university would not expel her alleged rapist,  she has decided to carry a twin size mattress everywhere she goes on campus to call attention to sexual assault on campus.

TIME magazine also has an article and video about sexual assault in the Ivy League.  Please click here to read the article.

The dark side of university life in the United States: One in every five women on university campuses has been raped or sexually assaulted. Rape is the most common violent crime on American campuses, and is chronically under reported. There is in fact no data on the number of drug induced rapes. According to the Center for Problem-oriented Policy at the State University of New York at Albany, “”Women ages 16 to 24 experience rape at rates four times higher than the assault rate of all women,” making the college (and high school) years the most vulnerable for women. College women are more at risk for rape and other forms of sexual assault than women the same age but not in college. It is estimated that almost 25 percent of college women have been victims of rape or attempted rape since the age of 14.4″

“College women are raped at significantly higher rates than college men.† College men are more likely to report experiencing unwanted kissing or fondling than intercourse. College men who are raped are usually raped by other men. However, since so few men report, information is limited about the extent of the problem.”

“Ninety percent of college women who are victims of rape or attempted rape know their assailant.10 The attacker is usually a classmate, friend, boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, or other acquaintance (in that order). Most acquaintance rapes do not occur on dates; rather they occur when two people are otherwise in the same place (e.g., at a party, studying together in a dorm room).”

Rapes go under reported because of shame, fear of embarrassment, distrust of the judicial system, etc.

Unfortunately, in spite of the law (e.g., the Student Right-to-Know and Campus Security Act of 1990 [U.S.C. 1092(f)(1)], covering all colleges and universities receiving federal funds, a 1992 amendment to the act requiring campuses to spell out rape victims’ rights and to annually publish information on prevention programs, and another 1998 amendment that added reporting obligations and was renamed the act the Jeanne Cleary Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics), campuses still under report acts of forcible and non forcible sexual violence.

Female or male students on our campuses should not be the subject of such abject behavior and we, the Muslim community, must be in the forefront in the war against sexual violence both on and off campuses. Islamic teachings offer a sound and safe alternative because of their emphasis on  chastity, abstinence and marriage would serve well on college campuses and may well be the cure to the rash of sexual misconduct that is plaguing  American college women and men.