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Professor to discuss violence against women in suffrage series lecture

Friday, February 28, 2020

LAWRENCE — It has been more than 25 years since Patricia Gaston was co-editor of The Dallas Morning News’ series “Violence Against Women: A Question of Human Rights,” but the problems addressed in the 15-part series are far from being resolved.

Gaston, who is the Lacy C. Haynes Professor of Journalism at the William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications, will discuss the wide reach of violence against women and what has been done to mitigate its effects in a lecture at 12:30 p.m. Monday, March 2, in the Clarkson Gallery in Stauffer-Flint Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

The Dallas Morning News’ series won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for International Reporting and was framed by several United Nations conferences discussing human rights and violence against women. Gaston said she and the rest of The Dallas Morning News team sought to start abroad in their research and “bring it all the way home.” The reporting covered rape used as a tool of war in Syria to assaults by Dallas police officers during traffic stops.

Although the specific events discussed in the series occurred over two decades ago, Gaston said that the issue of violence against women still needs to be discussed.

“The project was so seminal at the time, right before we had these U.N. conferences on women, and it was a big deal 20-some odd years ago, and it just needs to be talked about again,” Gaston said.

Gaston stresses the importance of proper education surrounding the topic of violence against women as a safety measure, especially for the college-age bracket.

“You can't always be on the lookout, though, with violence, as we've seen in this country,” Gaston said, “so it's very important for students to know.”

In her lecture, Gaston also will discuss the Violence Against Women Act, which was signed into law in September 1994. VAWA was back in the news with the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is currently stalled in the U.S. Senate, where it has been placed on the legislative calendar, according to the official website of the U.S. Congress. This delay can be frustrating for those who have followed the progression of legislation regarding protections for brutalized women.

“It goes back and forth,” Gaston said. “That should be something that should just be automatic.”

In her lecture, Gaston will address how measures to protect women have improved in general, especially in the era of the #MeToo movement, but there are problems that still must be addressed.

“There's been a lot of change and there's been some good stuff, but we’ve still got a long way to go,” Gaston said.

Gaston emphasized that violence against women is not a problem of the past; it is an ongoing concern that is a part of the larger issue of women’s rights. Her lecture is part of the Centennial Celebration of the 19th Amendment, a series of events commemorating women’s suffrage and the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right the vote in the United States. Anyone who seeks to learn more about VAWA, The Dallas Morning News’ series or the wider issue of violence against women is encouraged to attend the lecture. 

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