Editorial: Out of the shadows

The founder of a new task force to raise awareness of sexual violence says there is a misconception in the community that Ashland is a safe place for women. That doesn’t mean women are any more at risk in Ashland than anywhere else, only that there is nothing special about this city when it comes to violence against women.
Addressing that reality will be easier if more women feel empowered to report incidents of sexual violence. Alaya Ketani, founder of Keeping Ashland Women Safe, stresses that the goal is not to make women afraid — “We are not trying to alarm anyone,” she told the Tidings. “This is a proactive effort.”
Existing organizations already offer support and assistance to victims. The Jackson County Sexual Assault Response Team stands ready to help survivors of assaults. The Ashland Police Department’s You Have Options program is designed to make it easier for victims to come forward. And yet, victims still keep silent — until a report from another victim prompts them to reach out.
When Ketani shared a Facebook post about a groping incident at The Loft, she received messages from women recounting their own experiences. That prompted her to create KAWS, and to enlist the support of SART, the Police Department, Community Works and the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission. The task force will hold a public event at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 16, in the Gresham Room of the Ashland Library. More discussion can only help bring this issue out of the shadows.

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