ISIS and American college administrators: Both facilitate institutionalized rape or something

David Brooks expressed his alarm about ISIS’ rape program. Writing, “[t]his wasn’t supposed to happen in the 21st century,” the reader gets the impression that ISIS’ treatment of women is an anomaly in modern-day society. As an attorney at Global Rights for Women, a nonprofit that works around the world to achieve effective reform on violence against women, I know that the institutionalization of rape occurs around the world, even in the U.S. According to a 2013 global review, 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence.

While ISIS endorses sexual assault, American college administrations similarly facilitate and perpetuate the rape of women on campuses. Sexual violence becomes institutionalized through complicity. Recently published survey results show that as many as one in four women experience sexual assault on U.S. college campuses. The American Association of Universities surveyed 150,000 students at 27 colleges and universities in the spring of 2015. More than 27 percent of female college seniors reported that, since entering college, they had experienced some kind of unwanted sexual contact. Nearly half of those, 13.5 percent, had experienced penetration, attempted penetration or unwanted oral sex. A significant percentage of students say they did not report because they were “…embarrassed, ashamed or that it would be too emotionally difficult” or “…did not think anything would be done about it.”

The U.S. Department of Education is investigating more than 100 universities for their inadequate responses to sexual assault complaints. A Yale fraternity remains suspended after pledges marched on campus in 2010 chanting “No means yes, yes means anal,” leading to a federal investigation of the college’s “failure to eliminate a hostile sexual environment.”