Obama Launches Task Force To Combat Sexual Assault

At the White House on Wednesday, President Obama's Council on Women and Girls presented its report on sexual assault, calling it an epidemic especially on college campuses. The report claims that one in five women will experience a sexual assault in their lifetimes. Only 12 percent of victims actually report it, though.

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One in five women: that's the number of women who have been sexually assaulted in college, according to a new White House report. As NPR's Tamara Keith tells us, today, President Obama formally set up a task force that's charged with protecting students.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: President Obama made it clear that preventing sexual assault is personal for him.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is a priority for me not only as president and commander in chief but as a husband and a father of two extraordinary girls.

KEITH: This is far from the first time this administration has tried to address the problem, from pushing for the renewal of the Violence against Women Act to calling on military leaders to address the issue in the Armed Forces. This time, the focus is on high school and college campuses, and the report highlights not just the individual anguish but also the negative economic and health effects an assault can have over the long term.

OBAMA: It tears apart the fabric of our communities. And that's why we're here today, because we have the power to do something about it.

KEITH: Valerie Jarret is one of the president's closest advisors and the head of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

VALERIE JARRET: What we want to do is to lift up the best practices to show what is working. And we also want to put pressure on those who haven't stepped up to do so. I think young people, as they're applying for college, they should know, well, am I going to be safe on campus? And if not, well then maybe that's not the place I want to go.

KEITH: The president has asked the task force to report back in 90 days. Tamara Keith, NPR News, the White House.

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