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PERL’s founder and executive director Meaghan Ybos appeared on WKNO’s Behind the Headlines to discuss anti-violence campaign Memphis Says No More.  The campaign consists of PSAs and posters that feature Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong, District Attorney Amy Weirich, Mayor AC Wharton, and others declaring “no more” while emoting about violence.

The first part of the show features proponents of the campaign.  Ybos, starting at about 17:30 in the video, at takes a more critical view.

You can watch the video HERE.

Some highlights from Ybos’ interview:

– The No More campaign aims to change the culture.  Even if the goal were well-intentioned, it fails to address any actual shortcomings in law enforcement responses to rape.

– Campaigns like No More and It’s On Us may signify that people talk about rape differently now than they did in the past.  Though some view talking about rape as a sign of progress, it is irrelevant to the local rape crisis that led to Memphis Says No More.  Over 12,000 untested rape kits means that over 12,000 victims already know how to talk about rape: they reported theirs to police.  (It was then incumbent on police to listen, which apparently they did not.)

– There is a risk that No More could give the public a false sense of confidence in the criminal justice system.  As a result, the campaign could make it harder to find public support for needed reforms.

– Memphis Says No More is part of a national No More campaign, which has drawn scrutiny for what some say are cynical business relationships.  For example, the NFL, facing a PR crisis after a video showed Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his fiancee, quickly joined hands with No More.

The local campaign is built on similar relationships.  News of Memphis’ untested rape kits created an image problem for the city, which struggles with a bad reputation for crime.  The officials who star in the campaign — the Police Director, the DA, the Mayor – all have or have had some hand in the mass decriminalization of rape in Memphis.

But No More has another side that takes cause marketing to a more sinister level.  Ybos is the first to report on the curious relationship between No More and one drug company,  Jazz Pharmaceuticals.  Jazz, which sponsors No More, manufactures (and holds a patent on) the drug Xyrem, or sodium oxybate — which is the sodium salt of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB),  a common “date rape” drug.

People for the Enforcement of Rape Laws is a program of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center to monitor law enforcement responses to sexual violence.  Our goal is to end the law enforcement and political practices that effectively decriminalize sexual violence.   To this end, we connect victims with information about their rights and equip individuals with tools to advocate for themselves and others and advocate for fair criminal justice policies.  We urge you to learn more about America’s hidden rape crisis, where it has been exposed, and why it matters.  We invite you to take action and support our efforts to make sure law enforcement takes rape seriously.  

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