Skip to main content

Teach young men to treat women with respect

By Katie Hanna and Monika Johnson Hostler, Special to CNN
updated 1:48 PM EST, Sat January 5, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Katie Hanna, Monika Johnson Hostler: In the U.S. or abroad, violence against women persists
  • They say there's often a "code of silence" among athletes and fraternities
  • Hanna, Hostler: Athletic teams, coaches should educate boys about respecting women

Editor's note: Katie Hanna is the statewide director of Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence. Monika Johnson Hostler is the president of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

(CNN) -- Just within the past week, a disturbing video released by the hacktivist group Knight Sec exposed details surrounding the alleged sexual assault of a teenage girl in Steubenville, Ohio; more protests erupted over the horrific gang rape of a young woman in India; and the final sessions of the 112th Congress did not reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

Whether it's here in the United States, or in other parts of the world, violence against women persists and justice often falls through the cracks.

The Steubenville rape case has come back into the spotlight due in large part to online activists who felt that it wasn't being taken seriously. While the case against two teenage football players is being investigated, with a trial set for February, we as a society must do all we can to end sexual violence against women.

Katie Hanna
Katie Hanna
Monika Johnson Hostler
Monika Johnson Hostler

The video footage and messages that surfaced on social media, which appear to depict the sexual abuse of a girl, highlight horrible attitudes and unacceptable behaviors toward women. One thing is clear: Those "bystanders" who were present on the night of the alleged rape bear a responsibility. Why didn't any one of them assist her or respond to what was happening? And while three members of the football team have come forward to testify in the case, more should have. The "code of silence" that is often found among athletes, fraternities and other similar groups must be addressed.

We call upon our athletic teams and coaches to speak up because they can play an important role in prevention. Coaches can educate young men about the need to treat women with respect, encourage healthy relationships with the opposite sex, and promote non-misogynist behavior. We must ensure that young men see sexual violence against women as despicable and do all they can to stop it.

According to a recent national survey, 1 in 5 women in the U.S. reported having been raped. Most rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows. Victimization can start early in life. We still live in a culture where young women are not given a voice and victims of sexual violence are sometimes not believed.

Opinion: Why don't some boys see it as rape?

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



The Ohio incident has sparked outrage since it first was reported. Advocates and community members were glad that the case was turned over to special prosecutors in the Office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to avoid potential conflicts of interest. When Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Rachel Dissell took up the story in September, it inspired people who had been sexually assaulted to come forward about their own experiences. These people know that they were no longer alone.

Alleged rape shocks Ohio town
Murphy: Rape is grossly under prosecuted

Fewer than half of Ohio's 88 counties have rape crisis services available for individuals who have been sexually assaulted, and many existing programs lack the adequate resources to provide needed prevention and community outreach to address the myths about sexual violence and promote a culture that supports rape survivors. In Steubenville, there is no prevention funding to address sexual violence. As for survivors, how can they seek justice and healing if they have little support and resources available?

We call upon House Speaker John Boehner -- who's from Ohio -- to help us end sexual violence.

Opinion: End culture of rape in 2013

The Violence Against Women Act includes provisions for engaging men and boys as allies to ending sexual violence, providing bystander intervention and prevention in high schools and on college campuses. Contact your Congress member and encourage him or her to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. Survivors and communities across Ohio and the nation deserve your support.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Katie Hanna and Monika Johnson Hostler.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 2:42 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
updated 10:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
updated 8:35 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
updated 5:21 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
updated 7:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It's been ten days since Michael Brown was killed, and his family is still waiting for information from investigators about what happened to their young man, writes Mel Robbins
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
The former U.K. prime minister and current U.N. envoy says there are 500 days left to fulfill the Millennium Goals' promise to children.
updated 1:38 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Peter Bergen says the terror group is a huge threat in Iraq but only a potential one in the U.S.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT