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I recently headed over to the Web site for Just Detention International (formerly Stop Prison Rape) in order to learn more about this sad study reporting high rates of sexual assaults against juvenile detainees in the U.S. (Short version: one-in-eight detained youth report being sexually assaulted within their facility within the past year; 80 percent of these victims were abused by a member of the facility’s staff).
The numbers make JDI’s current ad campaign, which attempts to raise awareness about sexual abuse within our prison system, even more striking.
Consider the rape victim above. Then, consider her after a change of clothes:
JDI’s campaign comes in three flavors. The first is aimed at addressing rape in detention facilities. The second is aimed at promoting the sexual health of detainees:
And the third is simply aimed at preventing jokes about prison rape:
I love this public-awareness campaign. I think the before-and-after effect is really on point in revealing how our society completely dehumanizes detainees by condoning their sexual assaults. However, I’m afraid that I’m a bit jaded about the expectations of the “before” part of the campaign. Unfortunately, I know that there are people out there who would look on as a woman is brutally raped. There are people out there who would refuse to allow their tax dollars to go toward basic HIV prevention. And there are people who would joke about a man being raped. (That last attitude is particularly widespread). If anything, this campaign shows that it’s time to address our attitudes that minimize the sexual assaults of detainees—-and those which minimize the experiences of all other victims, too.