SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
More than 150 Joint Task Force service members kicked off Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) activities with a five kilometer run through Soto Cano Air Base April 17, 2014.
The Easter/Sexual Harassment Assault Response & Prevention (SHARP) 5k Fun Run/Walk began a month-long dedication to addressing and working to prevent sexual assault and harassment in the military. Each year, the month of April is dedicated to heightening awareness of the crime, as well as informing the community of services offered and encouraging victims to use the resources.
"It is critical to raise awareness about sexual assault and educate people on how to prevent sexual violence," said U. S. Air Force Lt Col. William Wade, Joint Task Force-Bravo deputy commander. "By working together, we can make a difference in our mission to stop sexual violence and its impact."
In addition to partnering with Family and Morale Welfare Recreation for the 5K run, the SHARP team will provide sexual assault training, host a guest speaker on April 28th to talk about the Special Victim Counsel and how it can help victims who have been assaulted, and partner with the base chaplain to hold a prayer breakfast.
Joint Task Force-Bravo members can wear blue jeans to work, as their mission dictates, on Denim Day April 28th. Denim Day originally started when the Italian High Court overturned a rape conviction because it believed the victim couldn't have been raped because her jeans were too tight so she must have helped the perpetrator take them off. The women of the Italian legislature protested the decision by wearing jeans to the afternoon legislative session.
"These events are designed to heighten the awareness of sexual assault/harassment prevention," said U. S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Stacy Rogers, Joint Task Force-Bravo SHARP coordinator. "So far in fiscal year 2014, Soto Cano has experienced one sexual harassment and on sexual case. Every Airmen/Soldier has a responsibility towards each other to step up and stop the behavior they see happening."
According to the Sexual Assault Prevention & Response website, SAAM provides an annual opportunity to reinforce the commitment to strengthening the professional climate across the armed forces where the cultural imperatives of mutual respect and trust, team commitment, and professional values are reinforced to create an environment in which sexist behaviours, sexual harassment, and sexual assault are not condoned, tolerated, or ignored.
"We have been challenged to not be a bystander and leave a comrade behind," added Rogers. "If each one of us stands up and stops that person in our work center from making those crude comments, then we have the possibility of stopping an assault before it happens."