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Mathias Bill
by FAAR Staff
Feminist Alliance Against Rape Newsletter Jul/Aug 1974

S 2422 is a bill to establish a National Center for the Prevention and Control of Rape within the National Institution of Mental Health. It is a research bill – any funding of action projects under this bil1 would be for research purposes. While no sum of money has been named, a considerable amount is likely to be spent if the bill is passed. The co-sponsors of this bill are Senator Mathias of Maryland and Congressman ¬Heinz of Pennsylvania. At this point, S 2422 has been passed by the Senate but has not yet gone to the House.

The purpose of this article is to examine some of the ways this bill may affect us as women and as feminists organized against rape: to what extent will this legislation increase control for women?

The following is extracted from a letter to Senator Mathias from John A. Buggs, Staff Director of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. It suggests some possible qualifications of this bill which we feel would tend to increase control for women in the proposed project.

Rape crisis centers, and other already existing groups, have produced a substantial range of literature and have built up a storehouse of experience and practical knowledge; it is crucial that this growth be continued. S 2422 should therefore provide specifically for funding of existing rape crisis centers which have already developed expertise and demonstrated success. In the absence of such a provision, it is possible that funding for demonstration projects would be provided only to traditional academic and research institutions and not to less traditional (but highly effective) rape crisis centers.

In order to protect the rights of privacy of rape victims, by ensuring their anonymity if they desire it, S 2422 should include a provision allowing funded centers to maintain complete confidentiality in record keeping …

In order to ensure the continuation of successful National Center funded projects, S 2422 should include a provision requiring the Center to seek Federal funding for the continuation of demonstration projects upon successful completion of their funding from the National Center …

As rape victims are almost entirely women, and as all women are potential rape victims, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights strongly urges that S 2422 include a provision requiring that the majority of the members of the Advisory Committee be women. This would ensure that the needs and concerns of women would be represented by Committee members ....

The legislation should also include an anti-discrimination provision, . which prohibits both race and sex discrimination in all aspects of the research and demonstration projects funded by the Center.
v Once the Mathias Bill is passed, NIMH may be a potential source of funding for feminist. anti-rape projects. If so, it could serve as an alternative for groups who are wary of LEAA (Law Enforcement Assistance Agency) funding. So far, LEAA Has been the only source of major amounts of money for anti-rape projects. However, the law enforcement concern of LEAA is not necessarily shared by women who are working to end rape.

We are primarily concerned that Mathias Bill would be implemented in a way which is likely to discriminate against non-degreed paraprofessionals involved in the issue of rape. Those of us who have been responsible for the increased "concern'' for rape victims may be squeezed out of the picture.