To: The United States House of Representatives and The United States Senate

Include Rape/Sexual Assault as a Federal Hate Crime

Congress has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.” Gender should be included so that rape & sexual assault can be prosecuted as a hate crime at the federal level.

Why is this important?

Rape culture is a significant problem in America, affecting the lives of every woman living here. In the news recently, you can read of the problems the DOJ is having with Missoula County in Montana. Women in every state should feel safe.

It is blatant that a rape or sexual assault is a criminal offense motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against women. If our local and state prosecutors refuse to protect us, we should at least have the security that the federal government will step in when these offenders are given a slap on the wrist.

The 1994 Violence Against Women Act recognized gender-motivated violence as a hate crime and provided a new federal civil rights remedy, enabling rape victims and battered women to sue their attackers for compensation and punitive damages. But in 2000 the Supreme Court called that provision unconstitutional due to the lack of a "distinction between what is truly national and what is truly local."

Twenty-four of 50 states currently include gender as a protected category under hate crime statutes, but few cases have ever been prosecuted. It is time to give women this protection again at the federal level.