President's Message - April 2023

Janet Hong Discusses Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)

Janet Hong 

WLALA President 2022-2023

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The origins of SAAM are traced back to the 1970s when women’s rights activists started speaking out against sexual violence and rape, which were often ignored or dismissed. The first rape crisis center was founded in San Francisco in 1971, the same city where the first U.S. Take Back the Night event was held seven years later. And in the 1980s, advocates and survivors of sexual assault continued organizing public events and mass marches to raise awareness.

According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), an American is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds. One out of every six women in the U.S. has been the victim of a completed or attempted rape (14.8% completed, 2.8% attempted). About 3% of men in the U.S. — or 1 in 33 — has experienced a completed or attempted rape. However, these statistics are based on reported cases; it is widely held that the vast majority of sexual assault offenses go unreported.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), sexual violence is directly tied to health inequities and systems of oppression. Some of the risk factors for sexual violence include societal norms that support sexual violence, male superiority and sexual entitlement, and maintain women’s inferiority and sexual submissiveness; poverty; lack of employment opportunities; and weak health, economic, gender, educational, and social policies.

Sexual assault is an issue that affects people across all ages, genders, races and socioeconomic status. I hope we can all take this month as an opportunity to learn more about the risk factors of sexual violence, prevention efforts, and how to support survivors.

On April 26, 2023, at 6:00 p.m., WLALA is co-sponsoring LLBA’s Denim Day event to raise consciousness for SAAM. I invite you to join us. Even if you cannot join us, remember on April 26 that showing support for survivors can be as simple as putting on your favorite pair of jeans. 

Janet Hong
President, Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles