USA: sexual violence denies women access to education

Jill Filipovic writing for the Guardian has documented the changes proposed by Betsy DeVos to make it nearly impossible for women on American university campuses to challenge the culture of sexual violence which is now endemic.  In particular it redefines sexual harassment as “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person access to the school’s education program or activity” - in other words, not just sexual violence, but abuse of such appalling severity that the woman's education is denied. 

The DeVos rules would also remove any requirement for universities to investigate complaints about off campus harassment (for example at frat parties), allow rapists to cross-examine victims, and allows universities to set their own rules of evidence and of whether to give an appeal right, even if someone is able to establish an "objectively" offensive course of conduct (because women are just so subjective and emotional about being sexually harassed, presumably.)  

It is abhorrent that America is even considering these moves, which will leave women once again facing very serious disadvantages to access to education. A more openly misogynist legal move from a country which prides itself on equality of opportunity is hard to imagine.

We support our American sisters in condemning the proposals.