According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there are nearly 240,000 victims of sexual assault (12 and older) each year. And Black women are at particularly high risk. Upwards of 20 percent of Black women will experience rape in their lifetime, and even more will be victims of forced touching and coerced sexual contact. To help address the problem in his city, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed recently launched a campaign that asks men to “Take A Stand” against sexual assault.

“We can change the tone of the conversation by just emphasizing the fact among our friends that no actually means no. It doesn’t mean to try to persuade harder,” Reed said during an interview with the Huffington Post.

The campaign features a short film and a series of PSAs by celebrities like Tika Sumpter and Gabrielle Union.

Reed said the idea for Take A Stand was heavily influenced by the female members of his staff, who schooled him on the issues and played a large role in the creation of the campaign.

“I happen to be blessed in that manner because I’ve got a really strong team around me to give me advice — and that’s really how we got to where we are,” he said. “It really was listening to women leaders who said the traditional tactics aren’t moving us in the direction that we want to move in.”

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    Reed is a great example to all men. All it takes is the willingness to seriously listen and hear what the women around you are saying. It’s not in our imaginations, and it’s more than just an inconvenience. Once you take our stories to heart, you’d have to be a monster to not want to help other men understand too.

  • Mayor Reed is right to call attention on this issue. No means no. The female members of his staff encouraged him to oppose the evil of sexual assault. Women have the right to be free and to live their own lives without assault, without harassment, without violence, and without sexual assault. Men have to take a stand against sexual assault. An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, so we believe in the right of women to have liberation and to maintain her human autonomy forever.