Iowa UNA’s Next Event

Brides’ March Against Domestic Violence in Iowa City on International Women’s Day

The Iowa United Nations Association (IUNA) is organizing a Brides’ March against domestic violence and sexual assault on campus to take place on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, International Women’s Day. The event is co-sponsored by the Domestic Violence Intervention Program and the University of Iowa Women’s Resource and Action Center. The March will start at 4:00 pm at the Blank Honors Center and follow the University of Iowa’s Anne Cleary Walkway to end at the Old Capitol. Women are encouraged to wear a white wedding dress or all white. Men are requested to dress in all black.

The Gladys Ricart and Victims of Domestic Violence Memorial Walk/Brides’ March is an annual event that started in New York City in 2001 in memory of Gladys Ricart in 1999 by her abusive former boyfriend on the day she was to wed her fiancé. The idea for the March originated with Josie Ashton who was moved by the murder and outraged at the media and community’s insensitive response to Gladys’ murder. Josie walked, in a wedding gown, through several states down the East Coast ending in her home state of Florida, all to draw attention to the horrors of domestic violence.

According to a 2015 survey conducted by the University of Iowa, the numbers for sexual assault at the University are disturbingly high:

  • 21 percent of undergraduate female students who filled out the survey said they were raped.
  • 5 percent reported attempted rape.
  • More than 11 percent of female first-year undergraduates surveyed said they were raped during their first semester on campus.

Research conducted by the University of Iowa Clinical Law Program on behalf of Domestic Violence Intervention Program provided equally troubling numbers for Iowa City as a whole:

  • In 2015, the Iowa City Police Department (ICPD) responded to 602 calls for service related to domestic assault, stalking, protection order violations and relationship-oriented harassment; this figure represents an increase from 579 calls in 2014.
  • In 2015, ICPD reported 288 arrests related to domestic violence; this figure represents an increase from 265 arrests in 2014.
  • The ICPD responded to 2,435 domestic violence related incidents between 2011 and 2015.
  • The Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP) helped 765 adult victims of domestic violence in 2014; DVIP helped 363 children in 2014.
  • Domestic violence victims made 12,595 calls for assistance to the DVIP crisis hotline or other resources in 2014.

In 2016, the Iowa City City Council unanimously passed a Resolution to Recognize Freedom from Domestic Violence as a Fundamental Human Right, joining 28 other local governments across the country in doing so.

The IUNA advocates for the right to life, liberty and the security of person especially in the case of vulnerable populations. The organization educates citizens and elected representatives about the international conventions and treaties that apply to domestic violence as a violation of human rights: as a violation of basic freedoms such as the right to life and security of person, as a violation of the right to equality, and as a violation of the prohibition against torture.

The Brides’ March will focus on mourning the victims and offer support to the survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault while raising awareness for the horrors of intimate partner violence. The Brides’ March aspires to be a catalyst for a zero-tolerance attitude toward domestic violence and sexual assault on campus. Increased awareness and understanding of the impact of domestic violence can change public policy.

The Iowa United Nations Association, founded in 1953, is 501(c)3 non-partisan membership organization and is the state affiliate of the United Nations Association of the USA.  Based in Iowa City, it works statewide to inform Iowans about the United Nations and to advocate for robust and constructive United States leadership in the world body.