Washington: US President Barack Obama has created a task force to combat physical assaults, particularly on college campuses, saying sexual violence is more than just a crime against individuals as it ultimately threatens the entire country.

“We are going to work with colleges and universities and educational institutions of all kinds across America to help them come up with better ways to prevent and repond to sexual assault on their campuses,” Obama yesterday said at a cabinet- level meeting wherein he announced the creation of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.

“Then we’ll help them put those ideas into practice, because our schools need to be places where our young people feel secure and confident as they prepare to go as far as their God-given talents can carry them,” he said.

“Sexual violence is more than just a crime against individuals. It threatens our families, it threatens our communities; ultimately, it threatens the entire country. It tears apart the fabric of our communities,” Obama said, adding that the US has the capacity to stop sexual assault, support those who have survived it, and bring perpetrators to justice.

Earlier, a White House report said that about one in five women in the US has been raped in her life time, with nearly half of the victims subjected to sexual assault before the age of 18.

“These young women worked so hard just to get into college, often their parents are doing everything they can to help them pay for it. So when they finally make it there only to be assaulted, that is not just a nightmare for them and their families, it’s an affront to everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve. It’s totally unacceptable,” Obama said.

Vice President Joe Biden, who also attended the meeting, said freedom from sexual assault is a basic human right.

“No man has a right to raise a hand to a woman for any reason – any reason – other than self-defense. He knows that a nation’s decency is in large part measured by how it responds to violence against women,” he said.

“He knows that our daughters, our sisters, our wives, our mothers, our grandmothers have every single right to expect to be free from violence and sexual abuse. No matter what she’s wearing, no matter whether she’s in a bar, in a dormitory, in the back seat of a car, on a street, drunk or sober, no man has a right to go beyond the word ‘No’. If she can’t consent, it also means no. That too makes it a crime,” he said.

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