Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 106
04/07/2016 08:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS
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SCR 20-SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH: APRIL 2016 8:38:25 AM CHAIR LYNN announced that the next order of business would be SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 20, Proclaiming April 2016 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. 8:40:40 AM SENATOR KEVIN MEYER, Alaska State Legislature, as prime sponsor, explained that SCR 20 is a resolution brought forward every year to proclaim April as the Sexual Assault Awareness Month. He described it as part of a national campaign to raise public awareness about sexual assault and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. He related he has been doing this for many years and spent much time during his Anchorage Assembly days on Stand Together Against Rape (STAR) and believes this is an important issue. CHAIR LYNN interjected that if this is done every year, why not make it permanent, because unfortunately the problem will continue. SENATOR MEYER explained that groups prefer to bring the issue forward each year to put it in front of people, because the problem will not go away any time soon. Nationwide, sexual assault statistics continue to be staggering, and regrettably Alaska is almost 2.5 times higher than the national rate on sexual assault. Sexual violence is preventable, and he described it as a social, public health, criminal justice, and human rights issue. This year, he explained, the 2016 Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign is focusing on building blocks of prevention by communicating how individuals, communities, and the private sector can take action to promote safety, respect, and equality. 8:43:43 AM LAUREE MORTON, Executive Director, Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (CDVSA), reiterated that Alaska is above the national average in sexual assault and there must be ongoing hard work and daily efforts to end sexual violence. However, she said the 2013 Alaska Victimization Survey showed, compared to 2010, a decrease in sexual violence victimization. There were 3,072 fewer victims of sexual violence in 2015 than in 2010. Acknowledging the good news, she pointed out there is still much work to do, because in 2010, 58 out of 100 women suffered intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or both. In 2015, the number reduced to 50 out of 100 women, which is one out of every two women in Alaska, and the combination of intervention and prevention work must continue. She pointed to SCR 20, page 2, lines 4-7, which read as follows: WHEREAS, in 2015, first responders from 16 communities--Anchorage, Barrow, Bethel, Cordova, Dillingham, Eielson Air Force Base, Fairbanks, Fort Wainwright, Juneau, Kodiak, Kotzebue, Nome, Palmer, Seward, Unalaska, and Valdez--participated in Sexual Assault Response Team training; and MS. MORTON continued that these first responders and advocates met jointly for training to learn about each other's roles and how the system can better work in response to victims when they come forward and progress through forensic exams. She advised that page 2 of the resolution refers to different primary prevention activities that communities are taking on to end sexual violence, such as Girls on the Run, Coaching Boys into Men, Green Dot, the 4thR, and Compass. Not only is this a concentrated effort by programs funded across the state with paid staff, community members are also invested in working with the programs to end sexual violence. Over the last year, more than 3,000 people have given their time, energy, and efforts to this cause by providing over 63,000 hours of service. She said that Alaska needs to thank the people who day in and day out answer phone calls at 3:00 a.m., go to the hospital with victims, and help when a victim is in court, with law enforcement, or at social services. These people hear the horrendous things people are capable of doing to one another, and they continue to come back and work so that someone will be available when a victim of sexual violence is ready to share his/her story. Advocates work tirelessly to provide a sense of dignity and bear witness to these horrible crimes, and they are owed a great debt of gratitude, she said. 8:48:23 AM CHAIR LYNN thanked Ms. Morton for her work and the work the advocates do to make this a better place, and he said there is a special place in heaven for these folks. 8:48:39 AM REPRESENTATIVE VAZQUEZ related that while in the district attorney's office, she saw volunteers firsthand and was impressed with the type of support they provide to victims. CHAIR LYNN, after ascertaining no one further wished to testify, closed public testimony on SCR 20. 8:49:26 AM REPRESENTATIVE KELLER moved to report SCR 20, out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There being no objection, SCR 20 was reported out of the House State Affairs Standing Committee.