It has been my honor to serve Cedar Rapids in House District 65 since 2014. I’ve advocated for fair wages, collective bargaining, education, clean energy and water, mental health, fixing Medicaid and women’s reproductive rights. As a 2010 Cornell College graduate and tech worker, I know firsthand the opportunities Iowa has to offer, and believe we should protect and expand them for future generations.
The aforementioned issues are basic needs that should never go unmet, and have garnered the most traction in the Legislature. They poll well, and political advisors would deem them “safe.” I want readers to know where I stand on these issues, and I encourage you to review my answers to The Gazette’s survey and visit my website, www.lizbennett.com.
Now I want to address an “unsafe” political issue: Iowa women are not safe from sexual assault and the Legislature can do more about it.
According to RAINN, 1 in 6 women and approximately 3 percent of men have been victims of attempted rape or rape. This is especially pronounced for people aged 18 to 24.
The Legislature can begin to address this problem by first setting a standard for sex education to discuss consent (Iowa is one of 42 states with no standard), and, second, by taking concrete action to clear the rape kit backlog.
When a person reports an assault and undergoes the medical examination knows as a “rape kit,” it can currently take 6 months or more for results, and that is in cases with a known attacker. It can take longer if drinking is involved or if the victim couldn’t see or didn’t know the attacker.
The last state inventory showed 4,265 untested rape kits. This means we have DNA information for sexual predators sitting on shelves, not being compared to DNA in law enforcement databases, while predators are free to attack again.
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This hasn’t been labeled as a “top priority” by many polls, or many candidates, but it should be.
When I return to the Statehouse, I pledge to lead the charge to ensure the basic right of Iowans to live free from assault.
If you want a representative who sticks to “safe” issues, that’s not me. If you want someone who is not afraid to lead, even when an issue is not popular or understood, even if it means taking flack for doing what is right, I humbly ask for your vote.
• Liz Bennett is the Democratic candidate in Iowa House District 65.