It shouldn’t be shocking that under Donald Trump, a man who famously bragged about having grabbed women without consent, the White House has removed a President Barack Obama-era report on rape and sexual assault from its website. Yet somehow the lengths the administration will go to cover up and/or minimize the atrocities perpetrated on marginalized people is still mind-blowing
The report from 2014, titled “Rape And Sexual Assault: Renewed Call to Action,” which details demographics of the most at-risk victims as well as those who most often commit acts of sexual violence, and highlights the impact of rape and sexual assault, was created under the Obama administration’s White House Council on Women and Girls in partnership with Vice President Joe Biden, notes HuffPost. The White House removed the report without a peep of an explanation as to why, and it may have gone unnoticed for a time except that civil rights attorney and cofounder of the anti-sexual violence organization KnowYourIX Alexandra Brodsky went searching for it as a source.
“I went looking for it because I’m working on briefing for a client who’s a survivor and was looking for some literature about the impact of sexual violence and that’s been a really helpful resource for that kind of research,” Brodsky told HuffPost. “But it was no longer on the White House website. It’s not anywhere on the White House website.”
It’s not the first time the Trump administration has scrubbed the White House website of material in an attempt to erase or change the history of certain realities it doesn’t find politically expedient. Shortly after Trump took office, pages devoted to LGBT history and rights, the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, civil rights, climate change, and the White House Council on Women and Girls disappeared.
Regarding the removal of the report on rape and sexual assault, Brodsky said, “The report is titled ‘A Renewed Call To Action’ and taking it down is really a discouragement from action. That’s particularly troublesome when we know that the administration is actively considering undermining important policies for survivors like those reaffirmed by the Obama administration regarding Title IX.”
The report, which can still be found on the KnowYourIX site, is packed with statistics about victims like the fact that LGBT people, teens and young adults, college students, people with disabilities, those who are incarcerated, undocumented immigrants, and the homeless are all at a possibly higher risk of sexual assault than those who don’t fall into those categories. Additionally, the report confirms that women are at a higher risk of sexual assault than men, “98 percent of female survivors and 93 percent of male rape survivors report that their assailants were male,” and arrest rates for sexual assault are sickeningly low, all of which are statistics that Trump, a man whom no fewer than 11 women have accused of sexual assault or rape, would not want promoted.
If Trump’s own crimes against women weren’t enough, consider that Republican members of the House of Representatives passed a version of a health care bill that considered rape and sexual assault “pre-existing conditions.” Thankfully, Trumpcare has not become law, but it in no way lessens the appalling attempt by Trump, his White House, and the GOP House members to minimize and erase rape and sexual assault.
There’s no knowing for sure why the report was removed, especially since the White House did not comment, according to HuffPost, but it is clear that the Obama administration took a modern, necessary approach to sexual assault that implicates serial harassers like the man who currently sits in the Oval Office:
“Of course, we must — and can — continue to change our nation’s attitudes about these crimes. Sexual assault is pervasive because our culture still allows it to persist. According to the experts, violence prevention can’t just focus on the perpetrators and the survivors,” the report now expunged from the White House website reads. “It has to involve everyone.”
The most chilling piece of the rape and sexual assault report in terms of Trump’s admitted predilection for assaulting women reads, “And in order to put an end to this violence, we as a nation must see it for what it is: a crime. Not a misunderstanding, not a private matter, not anyone’s right or any woman’s fault.”
Juxtapose Obama and Biden’s commitment to ending sexual assault with that of Trump’s admission on the leaked Access Hollywood tape, “ I just start kissing them [beautiful women]. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy,” and it becomes clear why the grabber in chief who wrote off his admission of assault as “locker room talk” (and his enablers) removed a report crucial to ending the boys-will-be-boys approach to rape and assault.