What’s Sex Got to Do With… Bill Cosby?

1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted throughout their time in college. Yet, according to a Time Magazine article, only 12% of them report the assault to law enforcement. Most women will know their attacker, be it a friend, family member, classmate, professor, etc. and these relationships make it harder for young ladies to take their case to the authorities. The article also notes that 3/4 of victims will be incapacitated in some form, whether under the influence of drugs or alcohol, sometimes unknowingly. Cited in the article was the Koss study, which brought to light how only about 6.4% of males on campus are rapists. These men, on average, prey on 6 women per year–making them serial rapists.

These high stats of sexual assault and low rates of reporting aren’t just applicable to college students. Women across transnational borders are also caught in similar situations, especially when coercion comes into play. Coercion is the use of informal power within an intimate relationship where there is pressure from one party used to incite the other to do something they may not want to do. When there is an obvious power structure differential, like with migrant women and their bosses or a young freshman college student and an upperclassmen frat boy, it’s easy to understand how complicated these situations can become…but more importantly, how difficult it is for victims to report the crime.

Within the last few weeks, 17 women have come forward claiming that they were sexually assaulted or harassed by longtime comedian, Bill Cosby.

Now although all these claims are still only alleged, it’s important to note that all but a few of these women have remained silent for the last few decades. Like most ladies in college or immigrant workers, majority of these women, too, decided it was best to not press charges against their perpetrator. Fear of shame, disbelief, lack of support, or worse kept them, and continues to keep most women, from going to the authorities.

If young college students find it challenging to report a classmate or friend, someone with little to no power in society’s eyes, think of what it must have been like for Cosby’s alleged victims to report. He is an established comedian, actor, activist, husband, millionaire, and respected family man. Because of who is is and what he represents, do we turn a blind eye to these women? Does Cosby’s reputation play a part in how we proceed with the alleged assaults?

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