CASOL: Campaign Against Statutes of Limitation on Sexual Assault and Rape

 

Who they are?

  • CASOL (Campaign to Abolish Statutes of Limitation on Rape and Sexual Assaults) is a nationwide effort that seeks to end reporting time limits for sexual violence.

How did they start?

  • CASOL evolved from the Californian grassroots initiative, End Rape SOL, which was started by legendary feminist and LGBT rights activist Ivy Bottini. Ivy called a group of like-minded activists together in July of 2015, and word of this campaign quickly spread to nonviolence activists throughout the state. The California campaign was co-chaired by Caroline Heldman, an Associate Professor of Politics at Occidental College in Los Angeles. 
  • In September 2016, EndRapeSOL successfully abolished the existing 10-year reporting time limit on rape and sexual assault in the state of California. Governor Brown signed the bill into law after a unanimous vote of the Assembly. Organizers, chaired by Chelsea Byers, decided to take the campaign national shortly after their legislative success in California.

What are Statutes of Limitation? 

  • Statutes of limitation (SOL) are time limits for reporting crimes. The criminal justice system assigned totally arbitrary time limits for victims to report sexual violence - ranging from 3 to 30 years across the country.

How do SOL's Impact the Reporting and Prosecuting of Incidents of Sexual Violence?

  • First, know that only 20–25% of survivors of sexual violence ever report their experience. Victim-blaming, ongoing systemic violence and pitifully low rates of prosecution and conviction enable a culture of silence and predation. The majority of victims of sexual violence are disproportionately marginalized at intersections of race, class and gender and face systemic oppression.
  • Compounding such obstacles even further are time limits on prosecuting rape as these are a rapist's best friend and a survivor's worst nightmare. It can take survivors years to report sexual violence due to fear, stigma, and victim blaming. This added legal barrier creates an impossible silencing mechanism to surmount in order to speak their truth, so many victims never do.  These laws leave serial predators unaccounted for in our communities and enable the rape culture we live in. 

What are they doing now?

  • Led by now-Executive Director Chelsea Byers, CASOL seeks to address the many ways our legal system couples with society to silence survivors and shield predators.  They are working to train and develop emerging leaders and provide resources to activate local, grassroots campaigns to support legislative efforts in the states where a barrier to reporting exists for survivors of sexual violence.
  • The four main areas where CASOL seeks to make an impact in eradicating statutes of limitation for sexual violence are:
    • Statewide Campaigns: Statutes of limitation are laws that must be changed on the local level. CASOL activists are trained and supported to drive strategic, creative, localized campaign efforts to change laws in their communities and connect with local efforts to end rape culture.
    • National Coalition: CASOL has activated a broad-based coalition of organizations in the anti-violence, criminal justice, human rights and anti-oppression space. Our partners support legislative action, national gatherings and story amplification.
    • Leadership Development: CASOL supports new and emerging feminist leaders in the anti-violence and criminal justice reform movement through webinars, regional trainings, and national convenings. CASOL is rooted in strategy nonviolence and offers resources on movement history,  NVDA training, and creative campaign development. 
    • Changing the Narrative: CASOL affiliates work strategically and creatively to change the story around rape culture. State violence through legal silencing mechanisms has prolonged the impact of rape culture. Survivors must be centered in our conversations of safety and criminal justice reform to break the cycle of violence and create lasting change.

What are some of their recent projects?

  • During the 90th Academy Awards ceremony in March of 2018, CASOL organized the Rally Against Rape Culture, a.k.a. #OscarsSoComplicit, which convened at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea Avenue to call out the Academy of Motion Pictures for their complicity in rape culture. 

Where do they operate now?

  • Even with their inspirational grassroots victory in California, there is still a lot of work to be done. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), forty-three of our fifty states have some form of statutes of limitation for at least one felony sex crime. CASOL seeks to provide assistance to local campaigns in any of these states.
  • The seven states that do not have any form of statutes of limitation for any felony sex crime in their legal codes are Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Where can I learn more about them?

Click here to visit their website to learn more about their organization

Click here to view CASOL's profile in our  'Many Faces of Nonviolence' series

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