WICHITA, Kan. - My eyes are being opened to the problem of sexual assault in Kansas. The more information that I seek, the more alarmed and outraged I become. The fact that one rape occurs every seven hours in Kansas is a fact that I find unacceptable. The fact that the ordeal of many victims is often intensified by current post assault procedures currently practiced by hospitals throughout the state... well, that is a fact that I find inhuman.
A recent sexual assault on the campus of Wichita State University is what began my education in this area. Initially, it was the "tips" for lowering the risk of rape that prompted me to contact WSU campus police. The "tips" that obviously indicate that women should shoulder the responsibility to protect themselves from potential attackers, rather than counseling drunk frat boys on how NOT TO RAPE WOMEN. Well, every journey must have a starting point and that was mine.
As I stewed in my pot of aggravation, I simmered further when a fellow feminist friend noted that the victim was taken to a Catholic hospital. This prompted me to find out more about sexual assault victim protocol in the state of Kansas. I could have never imagined that the lack of emergency contraception dispensed to victims based upon a contradictory religious ideology (EC would prevent an unwanted pregnancy, thus preventing a potential abortion) would be the least offensive thing that I would discover.
Just over a week after the sexual assault at WSU, it was reported that there were multiple attacks on women on the same night at separate universities in Lawrence, Kansas. The women were told to go to a hospital out of town. My ire had been adequately riled. I then found myself in Hays, Kansas. I had been asked to speak on the topic of women's rights with some college classes at Fort Hays State University. The conversation turned to sexual assault, as there were students present that had chosen this topic as the subject matter for a current class project. They shared with me the story of a rape in their town involving football players that had occurred at the beginning of the year. The victim was taken from Hays to a hospital in Salina. Salina is 100 miles away from Hays. These students told me stories of victims that they knew, that had to switch police vehicles at the crossing of each county line, intensifying their feelings of humiliation and exposing them to multiple strangers who would then become aware of their horribly painful and personal plight. They told me stories of women vomiting on the side of the road on the excruciatingly long return trip, as they experienced adverse reactions from medications that had been administered as part of the sexual assault examination process. If this is how the victims of sexual assault are treated in the state of Kansas, I must forcefully ask...WHY?
There is a hospital in Hays that is on its way to being "a top health care facility in the region in both size and quality of care". Do they lack the funds to provide a certified sexual assault nurse examiner for the region? Well, one thing I can tell you is that they have $4 million at their disposal to put into parking lot renovations.
There are those that would say that I shouldn't be surprised. There are those that would say that this is the way it has been throughout the ages. Women and their inconvenient societal disadvantages, well they will just have to accept what is given to them. Fathers will have to just accept that the hospital that may be instrumental in delivering their precious daughters into the world, may one day turn those same daughters away when they turn there for help after having been sexually brutalized.
Well, I AM surprised. I AM disappointed and shocked, but my eyes are now open and I don't intend to close them.