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Presidential Candidate Kasich Says Women Can Avoid Rape by Skipping Parties

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Presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich is in hot water for a comment about rape on college campuses.

During a town hall meeting in Watertown, N.Y., a student from St. Lawrence University about how he’d address problems with sexual violence, if elected president. He shared how he’s tackled the problem in Ohio.

“In our state, we think that when you enroll you ought to absolutely know that if something happens to you along the lines of sexual harassment or whatever, you have a place to go where there is a confidential reporting, where there is an ability for you to access a rape kit, where that is kept confidential, but where it gives you an opportunity to be able to pursue justice after you have had some time to reflect on it all,” he said on Friday. “We are in a process of making sure that all higher education in our state — and this ought to be done in the country — that our coeds know exactly what the rules are, what the opportunities are, what the confidential policies are, so that you are not vulnerable, at risk and can be preyed upon.”

PLACING BLAME ON VICTIMS

The first-year college student said it’s an issue she worries about, even with something as simple as walking home. Kasich’s comment didn’t stop there. “I’d also give you one bit of advice,” Kasich said. “Don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol. OK? Don’t do that.” A father of twin 16-year-old girls, perhaps Kasich didn’t realize the depth of his stance. Perhaps he was just answering like a dad. While alcohol may be a factor in some sexual assaults, it is not why they happen. Kasich’s comment implies the victim is to blame. “It is no wonder women are turning away from the Republican field in huge numbers,” DNC spokeswoman Christina Freundlich said in the statement. “Our country deserves a president who will stand with them, not put the blame on them.” While it’s important for any student to be on guard, is it fair to ask young women to change their behavior? Enjoying parties and social events are a part of the college experience. Often, alcohol will get mixed into those gatherings. Why tell women they need to change the way they act? Why not ask the sexual predators to change the way they behave, asked Christina Cauterucci, writing in a recent editorial for Slate.com. “It would make just as much, if not more sense to tell men to stop drinking so much so they don’t rape women,” she writes. “But rape and sexual assault are just as much about power and violence as they are about sex, and alcohol is not the root cause of rape. Kasich should blame misogyny, poor sex education, and toxic male behavior, not women, for the scourge of campus sexual assault.”

PROBLEMS WITH RAPE ON CAMPUS
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, rape is the most common violent crime on American college campuses. One in four college women will be the victim of sexual assault during her academic career. It’s also an issue for men. About three percent of college men report surviving rape or attempted rape as a child or an adult.

Kasich’s effort to combat rape in Ohio is commendable. During his tenure as governor, the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence has thanked Kasich for providing the first-ever state funding for rape crisis centers.

RESPONDING TO CRITICS
Regardless, Kasich needs to clean up his commentary. His team quickly responded to critics online. Kasich’s team took to social media.

“Only one person is at fault in a sexual assault, and that’s the assailant,” they said in a series of Tweets from his account. “That’s why John Kasich has worked so hard to provide campuses with the tools they need to make sure victims have the necessary support. Victims needs to know we’re doing everything we can to have their backs, and that’s happening in Ohio under John Kasich’s leadership.”

This isn’t Kasich’s first sign of trouble on the campaign trail. In February, he spoke before an audience in Virginia about how he became a success in Ohio.

“How did I get elected? I didn’t have anybody for me,” Kasich said. “We just got an army of people and many women who left their kitchens to go out and go door to door and to put yard signs up for me all the way back when things were different.”