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BlurredLine’s panel on rape shows barriers to prosecution

social issues


George Washington University


BlurredLine’s panel on rape shows barriers to prosecution

Panel highlighted issues at GW

Erika Rosario


On Nov. 10, the Reclaiming Justice: D.C. panel became not only an incredibly informative event, but also a safe space for students.

Reclaiming Justice: D.C. was a panel that was put together by BlurredLines and a team of GW students (Nangesian Waters, Priyanka Walimbe, Dino Nzanga, Callie Galfas, and Hannah Leisman) in order to discuss sexual assault prosecution.


BlurredLines started off as a social media campaign during a Switzerland conference attended by Vinuri Dissanayake and her two co-founders. Since the summer of 2016, they have started to raise awareness on sexual assault and violence on a global scale. They have done picture campaigns, trivia games and workshops with nonprofits in D.C. and abroad.

"#BlurredLinesSM, is a global student run campaign that works on creating awareness on sexual assault and violence. We are primarily an awareness campaign and focus on three aspects: consent education, social and legal awareness and peer to peer education."

"We just became a nonprofit in D.C. and we’re trying to focus on awareness mostly. Whether it’s consent education, social and legal awareness, as well as peer to peer awareness,” Dissanayake said.

They invited the Metropolitan Police Department Lieutenant Duncan Bedlion, GW Title IX Investigator Kiera Bloore, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to the panel with D.C. Official Denise Krepp as the moderator. However, at the last moment the DOJ backed out because of a federal holiday.

Twenty-four cases of rape were reported to GW but only one of those cases was reported to MPD.

During the panel, Krepp shared information on GW's Clery report, which is a summary of crimes that occurred on or near campuses which is required for colleges who wish to continue receiving federal financial aid programs can be found within the Annual Security & Fire Safety Report.

GW and Sexual Assault

The most recent Annual Security & Fire Safety Report, from 2016, states that 24 cases of rape were reported to GW but only one of those cases was reported to MPD. It also states that 21 of those cases were reported to non-police, such as university deans, directors, department heads, and residence life staff.

However, GW has nothing to do with prosecuting; that falls under MPD and DOJ’s jurisdiction.

Furthermore, GW Colonial Health Center only offers a short term option for individual counseling. As discussed in the panel, students get six free sessions and then a maximum of six more if requested. However, according to students attending the event, these counseling sessions are mainly outpatient referrals. GW Haven's website hosts a variety of resources related to sexual harassment, assault, dating and domestic violence, and stalking.

The panel also brought up the fact that GW Hospital doesn't have rape-kits . Actually, no university hospital in D.C. have them. The only hospital in D.C. that conducts rape kits is the MedStar Washington Hospital Center near Howard University. Which is interesting considering that people ages 18-34, many of whom are in college, experience 54 percent of sexual assaults.

Collecting evidence from a victim of rape requires the coordination of highly trained forensic nurses, police officers, rape crisis counselors, hospital personnel and local federal governments; this is a major reason against having rape kits accessible in university hospitals.

This panel highlighted issues GW faces and potential barriers to prosecuting sexual assault.