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Women work to 'take back' safety rights

Starting today, the women’s affairs commission of Student Senate will sponsor Take Back the Night, a weeklong series of events to raise awareness about victims of sexual assault.

The event, which is in its 33rd year at OU, is centered around a march where hundreds of women rally to “reclaim the night” from the fear that causes women to walk in groups, or not at all, after hours, according to a press release.

“Living on a college campus, women’s odds of being sexually assaulted raise to almost one in every four or five women,” said Victoria Calderon, commissioner of women’s affairs. “So, if there’s a time to educate people about awareness and prevention, it’s now.”

Tuesday, Hannah Dunn, administrative coordinator of the LGBTA Center, will present a talk titled “Assault, Hate and Violence in the LGBT Community” to discuss how sexual assault affects the LGBT community and what people can do to help.

LGBT individuals are three times more likely to be sexually assaulted, Dunn said.

“There is a pervasive silence around the topic,” she said. “We have to end the silence if we ever want to bring down the appalling number of LGBT assaults and face the homophobia in the system.”

That night, victims of sexual assault and their supporters will also gather outside McCracken to burn sheets of paper with assailants’ names on them.

“The name burning is awesome,” said Brenda Strickland, coordinator at the Survivor Advocacy Program. “Fire has such an amazing ability to not only take away the old but pave way for the new.”

The week comprises nine additional events aimed at empowering women and uniting the community, Dunn said.

“Take Back the Night is our way of standing up and saying that we won’t take it anymore,” Dunn said. “We, as women, are standing up and reclaiming our right to go where we want, when we want and with whomever we want without fear of being assaulted or attacked in any way.”

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