Campus News

Blogger, writer talks fighting rape culture, sexual assault in divided political climate

The group Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment hosted the event.

The group Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment hosted the event.

Image By: Jon Yoon and Jon Yoon

Wagatwe Wanjuki, an activist, blogger and writer, spoke as the UW-Madison keynote speaker for Sexual Assault Awareness Month Tuesday evening in the Red Gym to the audience about her personal experience with sexual assault.

Hosted by the student organization Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment, Wanjuki also discussed ways to address and fight rape culture in today’s political climate.

She advised students to be cautious of misinformation spread by media outlets and encouraged them to inform others about sexual assault by debunking common misconceptions about rape.

“Rape culture needs misinformation to thrive,” Wanjuki said. “We need to engage with others who are misinformed to spread our knowledge.”

Referencing an increase of recent sexual assault allegations in the news, Wanjuki told students they should be critical of news outlets who frame victims of sexual assault as “liars.”

She said these media outlets should be responsible for educating people about sexual assault, as well as spreading awareness on how to discuss and respond to the issue of rape culture in a politically divided climate.

“It is more important now than ever to talk about rape culture and fight it because we’re in this fresh page of politics,” Wanjuki said. “Norms and stereotypes continue to put the onus on victims.”

According to Wanjuki, sexual violence and rape culture impacts all people, especially those with historically marginalized identities. She said rape serves as a form of oppression in society because minority groups are often those who are the victims of sexual violence.

“People who are the most vulnerable are intentionally targeted,” Wanjuki said. “It’s not accidental. It’s done because it’s a reflection of whose bodies are valued in society and whose we really care about.”

She added people should take into account those with intersecting identities when trying to erase and fight rape culture. Wanjuki emphasized that meeting the needs of marginalized communities is crucial to ensuring a just society and that everyone should show support for victims of sexual assault.

“The rapists know who’s not valued in our society, but we need to prove them wrong,” Wanjuki said. “This is not how it should be. We need to show that we do value all these lives.”

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