Male violence against women is one of the most serious problems in the world. The numbers are staggering. Every year in the US, more than 230,000 sexual assaults are committed. At least 1 out of 6 American women have suffered rape or attempted rape, and 1 out of 3 women worldwide.

Native American women are the most likely targets of sexual violence. 44% of sexual assaults and rapes target children under the age of 18. Almost 2/3 of all sexual assaults are perpetrated by a non-stranger. Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes – 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to police. Only 3% of rapists ever spend a day in jail.

Resistance Radio with Wendy Murphy

In this podcast Derrick Jensen interviews Wendy Murphy, who talks about the level of sexual assault experienced by women and girls. She describes how, in our culture, language can be used passively and therefore lead to accepting sexual violence as the norm. Wendy states that how language is used connects with real world experiences and can be translated in the courts as unjust verdicts.

Changing the way we talk about sexual violence can change the way we feel and shift from passive to proactive in relation to harms towards women and girls. Wendy created a multi-disciplinary team – The Judicial Language review – which enabled the team to review decisions in courts and state whether language is appropriate. The project critically analyses discourse, providing alternate phrases and use of language to the courts. Wendy gives real life examples of  how language is used in the media and the courts to minimise (brush aside) the harms done towards children and strongly advocates a cultural shift, including the need to challenge passive use of language.

Wendy Murphy is the Director of the Women’s and Children’s Advocacy Project at New England Law | Boston, where she also teaches sexual violence law. In addition, she is an impact litigator, specializing in the constitutional and civil rights of abused women and children. Her twitter is @wmurphylaw. the website for the Judicial Language Project is

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