TAKE Back the Night 1990 is not just for women, nor is it just for students. The week of panel discussions, workshops and plays has dramatized the staggering problem of sexual and physical violence against women. It is a problem that requires a conscious commitment on everyone's part--women, men, students and staff--to fight effectively.
That commitment will be symbolized by attendance tonight at the 7:30 rally on the MAC Quadrangle at Holyoke Street. Those who cannot make the rally should join the 9 p.m. march. And those who do not make the march should come to the 10 p.m. reception at Ticknor Lounge in Boylston Hall. The time has come for everyone to acknowledge and condemn unwarranted violence as the first step in fighting it.
IN previous years, Take Back the Night has been accused of being a "women's march" and of "discriminating against men." Originally, the march was called "Women Unite! Take Back the Night" and as recently as last year, men were asked to march in the back.
This year, march organizers--while emphasizing the tremendous importance of the issues to women--did not target the week's activities solely towards them. Men will be welcomed at the march, rally and reception. Consequently, this year will be a true test of the willingness of the Harvard community as a whole to condemn violence against women.
The magnitude of the problem is mindboggling. More than 25 percent of college-age women report having been raped, according to a 1987 study by Mary Koss in Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. The FBI reports that one in three women will be raped in her lifetime. Other studies show that the vast majority of these rapes are perpetrated by an acquaintance of the victim.
Violence against women involves more than rape. According to Murray Arnold Strauss, author ofBehind Closed Doors 16 percent of all American couples report a violent act within the relationship in the last year. Another telling statistic: according to a 1987 report by the Hazelton Foundation, which studies juvenile justice, more than half of men ages 11 to 20 in jail for murder killed the batterer of their mother. And the March of Dimes reported in 1989 that more babies are born with disabilities because their mothers were battered than as a result of the combined effects of all the diseases for which mothers are routinely immunized.
IT is a myth that only rapists or batterers are at fault for these statistics. Those who know criminals, but do not report them, and those who see violence, but do not stop it, are also at fault. So too are government and private institutions that do not provide reasonable protection for women.
At Harvard, the administration is responsible for the safety of its students. Yet the University's escort service admits in the phone book it cannot be used routinely for protection and there is no 24-hour guarded study area.
At the absolute least, Harvard as an educational institution should teach students about the prevalence of violence against women. The administration should mandate a date rape workshop for all first-year students during Orientation Week. It is a disgrace that Take Back the Night, an event completely organized by students, represents the only comprehensive attempt to deal with these issues on campus.
It is time for women and men--students, staff and administrators--to unite and Take Back the Night.