Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

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Madam Speaker, today the House considers House Resolution 1259, a resolution designating the month of April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and I totally support this important legislation. I want to thank the gentlewoman from Wisconsin (Ms. Baldwin) for sponsoring this bill and bringing it to the attention of Congress again this year. It is important that we recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month to bring awareness to this tragic crime that occurs throughout the United States.

The goal of the resolution is to raise public awareness and educate communities and individuals about sexual assault and sexual violence. It encourages the prevention of sexual assault and the improvement of treatment of its survivors and the prosecution of perpetrators.

The numbers tell the story we cannot ignore. On average, a person is sexually assaulted in the United States every 2 1/2 minutes. According to the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, individuals age 12 or older experienced an estimated 222,000 rapes or sexual assaults in 2008, the last year for which we have data. The Rape Abuse Incest National Network, called RAINN, provides statistics about incidents of sexual assault in this country. And according to RAINN, children and young adults are the greatest risk of sexual assault: 44 percent of sexual assault victims are under the age of 18, and 80 percent are under the age of 30. One in six women and 1 in 33 men are victims of rape or attempted rape. And over the course of their lifetimes, 18 percent of all women in the United States are raped.

Thankfully, there are thousands of advocates across the country who serve as a bridge to recovery and encourage survivors of sexual assault to report the crimes as soon as it occurs. As my friend from Wisconsin has pointed out, there are numerous victims groups. I call them the victims posse, who are out to help victims of crimes, especially in the area of sexual assault, and we commend them for their work in this country.

As we work to empower victims of sexual assault, we also need to support the efforts of law enforcement officials to punish sex offenders and combat future occurrences. Unfortunately, only 41 percent of sexual assault victims report their attacks to law enforcement. We must encourage victims to report the crimes so we can aggressively prosecute rapists and remove them from our communities. That is why we build penitentiaries, to house rapists and people who sexually assault children.

Today's House resolution increases public awareness of sexual assault and works to combat it through prevention, education, and punishment. As chairman and co-chair of the Victims Rights Caucus, along with my friend from California (Mr. Costa) we totally support this legislation.

I have no further requests for time and am prepared to close.

Ms. BALDWIN. Madam Speaker, I continue to reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. POE of Texas. Madam Speaker, as my friend has pointed out, this resolution, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the statistics really don't tell the story because it is a story about people. Real people. She mentioned one from her State of Wisconsin. And there are too many to mention and talk about. But I would like to talk about one person that impacted my life.

Before I came to Congress, I spent all of my time at the courthouse in Houston, first as a prosecutor and then as a criminal court judge. Every day for years, almost 30, I saw criminal cases, either prosecuting them or hearing them as