Bustos Calls for Action to End Sexual Assault and Rape in Extended Floor Remarks

WASHINGTON, DC – Last night Congresswoman Cheri Bustos was joined by Congresswomen Annie Kuster (NH-2) and Katherine Clark (MA-5) to speak about the epidemic of campus sexual assault and rape. Studies have shown that one out of five women on college campuses experiences sexual assault however this ongoing epidemic has largely been unaddressed by Congress.

In her remarks, Bustos told the story of a woman she knew in college who was gang raped at a party. She told the story of this woman’s courage in telling her friends, the shame she experienced and the culture that allowed this crime to occur.

To watch Rep. Bustos’ remarks click here:

Below are Congresswoman Bustos’ remarks as prepared:

Thank you, Congresswoman Kuster, for organizing this special order and for bringing attention to such a critical issue.

But most importantly, for having the courage to share your story… which will give hope and strength to women and survivors across the country.

Sexual assault is an epidemic that knows no boundaries. It’s a crisis on our campuses that mandates the attention of every Member of Congress.

I was in college in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

And I know what happened back then is sadly still happening today.

I know of college gang rapes that happened when I was in school.

I know of men who would brag about “taking turns” on drunk or unconscious women who could not give consent.

We would hear about these experiences later… when a survivor was brave enough to confide in her friends about what happened that night.

But every time, without exception, she felt powerless – with little hope that justice would be on her side if she reported the crime.

That’s because the rape culture is suffocating for women in America.

She knew they would ask her what she was wearing… if she was showing cleavage or if her jeans were too tight.

She knew they would ask her how much she had to drink… as if she were, “asking for it,” because she had a few cocktails.

And she knew they would ask her about her sexual history… if she were promiscuous… or if she egged him on.

This is the rape culture that sexual assault survivors live through each and every day.

All of these memories came rushing back when I learned about the brave survivor at Stanford University.

She courageously shared her vivid, graphic and horrifying story of what happened before and after she was raped.

I didn’t say during because she was unconscious when she was raped behind a Stanford fraternity’s dumpster.

Mr. Speaker…

I am sick.

I am sick and tired of talking about this epidemic while meaningful legislation sits and dies in committee.

Many of us here today strongly support legislation that will reform the way sexual assaults are handled on our college campuses.

But where’s the movement? Where’s the vote on the floor of this U.S. House of Representatives?

The silence and the inaction from Congress is deafening and appalling.

For example, the Campus Accountability and Safety Act only has 34 cosponsors.

That’s 34 cosponsors out of 435 members of the House.

Just as troubling, the HALT Campus Sexual Violence Act only has ONE Republican cosponsor.

I repeat – one Republican.

Rape is not a partisan issue. Rape survivors aren’t labeled as Republicans or Democrats.

They are human beings, and they deserve better

At bare minimum, they deserve a hearing and a vote on the floor of this Congress.

And let me just say this…

If women made up more than 20 percent of Congress… If Congress truly reflected the makeup of America…

…I guarantee that sexual assault wouldn’t be a backburner issue.

Because this has impacted all of us.

Our friends, our sisters, our daughters. They have lived this experience.

As a woman in Congress, I will not stay silent… because why be a Congresswoman if you don’t vigorously and boldly help other women?

I will not stay silent while one in five college women experiences sexual assault during her undergraduate years.

As a woman in Congress, I will not stay silent… because every female staffer I work with knows a woman who was raped in college.

How many more college women will be raped before Congress will act?

We are here tonight for Emily Doe, who was sexually assaulted behind that fraternity dumpster while she was unconscious.

And we are here for all survivors to say that we see you.

We hear you.

We respect you.

And as women Members of Congress, we will amplify your voice until there is action.

And let me be clear – we will NOT be silent until meaningful action is taken.

We will continue to challenge the status quo so ALL survivors are given the adequate justice they deserve.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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