A new Maryland law goes into effect this month banning the sale of 190-proof grain liquors like Everclear, The Daily Beast reports.The law follows the footsteps of neighbouring states Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, who have all banned high-content alcohols like Everclear with the hope that preventing dangerously high levels of alcohol consumption will also prevent sexual assaults on college campuses.
“A lot of the college presidents came together … they all agreed that we should get rid of the worst of the grain alcohol that’s out there. It’s caused a lot of problems, everything from binge drinking to sexual assault,” Del. Charles Barkley, the Maryland state lawmaker who championed the bill, told The Daily Beast.
The logic the law follows — that alcohol directly causes sexual assault — has been criticised by advocates for sexual assault victims both because they feel it blames binge drinking, and not the assailant, for sexual violence, and because it moves the emphasis away from teaching students about consent and respectful campus cultures and places it instead on alcohol.
As one expert explained to USA Today last year, “People don’t get raped because they have been drinking, because they are passed out or because they are drunk. People get raped because there is a perpetrator there — someone who wants to take advantage of them.”
There’s also the belief that students will still binge drink, despite the new law. Still, others believe that grain alcohols as potent as Everclear could be used by possible perpetrators as a way to prey on women, and this alone makes the law worthwhile.
According to a 2001 research project commissioned the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol is present in approximately 50% of sexual assaults. But according to the same study, “Although alcohol consumption and sexual assault frequently co-occur, this phenomenon does not prove that alcohol use causes sexual assault.”
The Daily Beast also noted that this “Everclear embargo” is but one step Maryland has taken to curb sexual assaults on college campuses. Maryland colleges have also agreed to adopt an umbrella policy for sexual assault in which colleges coordinate with local law enforcement.
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