We’re sad to have to report this, but the news is important: One in five U.S. women have been raped, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Even scarier—almost half of women (44 percent) reported experiencing other forms of sexual violence during their lifetimes. Another 15 percent women have been victims of stalking.
Those facts just cover the United States too. There are countries where these rates are even higher. In Bangladesh, 89 percent of urban men answered "agree" or "strongly agree" to the statement, “If a woman doesn't physically fight back, it's not rape.” There it’s almost inevitable for the average woman to experience sexual violence and harassment.
So what can you do? How do we start the long road to changing statistics like these? Legislation has made some moves recently, namely with California passing the Yes Means Yes bill, which would require all state-funded colleges and universities to adpot "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex. And other efforts including documentaries, awareness campaigns, and even apps have popped up on a local level to combat street harrassment, which has the tendency to escalate. (Recently we covered the ways you can stop it.)
While sexual assault or harrassment is never something you want to worry about, being proactive and aware is incredibly important. Be vigilant about watching your drinks, always walk home with a friend, and keep an eye out for new technological developments to fight sexual violence. The most important weapon? Your voice. Speak up if you feel as though something done to you isn't right. Educate others about what constitutes rape, and don't be afraid to speak your mind.
What do you think is the best approach to this problem? Tell us in the comments or tweet us @Shape_Magazine.