LIFESTYLE

Joe Biden: 'Rape And Sexual Assault Are Not About Sex. They're About Power.'

26/04/2017 19:19 SAST | Updated 26/04/2017 19:19 SAST
George Mason University
Biden speaking to students at George Mason University. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden stopped by George Mason University Wednesday morning to speak to students about sexual assault prevention on college campuses. 

The event, held by Biden’s sexual assault awareness organization It’s On Us, was live streamed on George Mason’s website and featured faculty and student speakers, along with “13 Reasons Why” actress Alisha Boe and producer Joy Gorman. 

Boe said that playing her character Jessica, who gets raped in the series, has given her insight into the emotional trauma so many survivors experience. 

“We want the survivors in the room today to know that your voice matters, your story is important and your truth is real,” Boe told the crowd of George Mason students. “You are never, ever, ever alone.” 

When Biden took the stage he explained that his passion to combat violence against women came from his father.

“Everybody thinks that maybe my mom or sister was abused, thank God to the best of my knowledge that was not the fact,” he said. “But my dad used to say the greatest sin a man or woman could commit was the abuse of power... The one thing he could not stand is the notion of the abuse of a woman.” 

Consent requires affirmative consent. Former Vice President Joe Biden

The most important lesson his father taught him and his siblings, Biden said, was to intervene. And every college student in the country has an obligation to do just that, the former VP added. 

“Both men and women have an obligation to help survivors in any way they can,” Biden told the crowd.

To the women gathered, Biden said that statistics show female sexual assault survivors in college are most likely to confide in their roommate or friend. Unfortunately, statistics also show that those roommates and friends often don’t seek help for the survivor. 

And to the men, the former VP reiterated the importance of consent: “Consent requires affirmative consent.” 

“Our society is going to be judged by future generations about our civility and our decency,” Biden said. “One of the measures we’re going to be looked at is how did we deal with this issue? There is never a culture of justification for any of this. Brutality is brutality. Human rights are basic. I don’t care what’s your religion ― no religion, no culture can be sustained or should be tolerated that says it’s OK to abuse another human being.” 

Biden urged young men to take responsibility in doing their part to change the culture of sexual violence on college campuses. He ended on an important reminder, telling the crowd: “Rape and sexual assault are not about sex. They’re about power.” 

Head over to It’s On Us to learn more about the organization. 

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