I've been posting about Sarah Palin's policies (or lack of them) on Alaska Native and American Indian issues, both here and on Alaska Real. Although I have mentioned this before, it's becoming more and more apparent to me the most serious "Native" issue that Mayor or Governor Palin has has a negative impact on is the one surrounding sexual abuse here in Alaska.
Some of it's seriousness is in just how drastic the rate of abuse is for Native women in this state. But then, the rate of rape and abuse is pretty astronomical no matter what race you are. If you are a woman in Alaska, the chances are pretty high that you have been abused.
For those that have not heard by now, Alaska has the highest rate of sexual abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, etc. etc. Pick out any three women in Alaska - one of them will have "experienced sexual abuse" in her lifetime. Some facts from STAR:
Alaska is the number one state in the country for rape, and has been for 23 out of the last 30 years.
Alaska’s reported rate of rape per capita is 2.6 times the national average.
Anchorage has the ninth highest sexual assault rate of any city in the United States, and Fairbanks is ranked first. (Not the best top ten list to be on.) Fairbanks’ rape rate is 4.7 times the national average.
AK’s Child abuse rate is six times higher than the national average.
The stats get even grimmer if you look at how Alaska Native women fare. If you really don't want to sleep at night, take a look at Amnesty International's report, "Maze of Injustice: The Failure to Protect Indigenous Women from Sexual Violence in the USA".
I thought that the seriousness of her treatment of the sexual abuse issue was limited to the firing of her (Alaska Native) commissioner, who was really getting at this issue. I cannot emphasize enough how well-known Monegan was for fighting against abuse. Palin even commended him publicly on his work with domestic violence at a conference, just months before she fired him. She said the "indication of our committment" to the issue was his participation and work.
What does it say when she fires the "indication of her committment?"
If you do half a search on Monegan and fighting sexual and child abuse in Alaska, you will pull up a lot of information about so many ways he was active and fighting for this cause. In an extreme amount of sad irony, Palin is now saying (months after the fact) that the "last straw" before he was fired was his "insubordination" at trying to lobby for a major sexual assault bill - traveling to Washington without permission, in fact, when Palin hadn't signed off on the bill.
Of course, about two seconds after this was announced, ABC released the travel authorization, signed by Palin's chief of staff, authorizing the travel. Palin's staff responded by saying they signed off "as a matter of routine." Wish I had a boss like that.
With all that aside, I now find myself longing for the time when "all she had done" to make the effort to fight sexual assault in this state harder was fire the guy doing the best job of fighting it than any guy in years. But then the news about Wasilla's charging for rape kits came out.
This really did make me ill, and I was pretty ready not to believe it. I didn't realize numerous cities around the state and nation charged the victims for rape kits, much less Wasilla, about a 45 minute drive away, and that the city (while Palin was mayor) had to be forced to stop this practice by the passing of a state law.
Alaska Rep. Croft: "It was one of those things everyone could agree on except Wasilla," Croft told CNN. "We couldn't convince the chief of police to stop charging them."
Palin has not addressed this charge herself, but her supporters are trying to say she didn't neccessarily support it, and she may not have known about it. Really? There was 6,000 people in the town, and the mayor and chief of police don't talk much about something the state had to impose on them to stop doing? At the very least, she didn't read the local paper.
"I find it hard to believe that for six months a small town, a police chief, would lead the fight against a statewide piece of legislation receiving unanimous support and the mayor not know about it," Croft said.
It's one of many situations surrounding Palin that supporters have cried, "But she probably didn't know about it!" If she did know, and she let it happen, it's a nightmarish thing to do to women. If she didn't know what her police chief and the state were fighting about - my word, get that woman out of office!
To really seal the deal for her attitudes and negligence of the sexual assault issue in Alaska, she's lately been under fire from agencies in the state that work with abused women, as shown in this ABC report:
"She's really done a lot of work on oil and gas, but when it comes to violence against women and children. . . we haven't been on her radar as a priority," said Peggy Brown, executive director of the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
"I don't believe Gov. Palin has made this a priority," said Geran Tarr, co-chair of the Alaska Women's Lobby. "We have not seen Gov. Palin do anything that would indicate this is a priority."
There is an agency that seemed to support her, but they are similar to the Native (not Alaskan) organizations I've heard support her - it's all the "PR" type "support" from Palin. Tarr, the AWAIC lady in the ABC story above says she's publicly spoken out against domestic violence (because so many speak for it...) - and that, despite the promised fast track law that was supposed to have been completed and is apparently in lala land - she did raise the funding by 2% to cover abuse treatment after the fact. And she proclaimed the month sexual assault awareness month. No prevention funding, but we've named a month...
The irony is, Tarr, the AWAIC lady who spoke to ABC saying Palin was supportive was negated by her boss who later said Tarr "did not speak for the organization." They were staying out of the politics.
If you are a woman in America, I would truly be frightened at the idea of this woman getting the keys of influence and power. She will not do anything to protect you. For that matter, if you are a parent, I would be even more scared. She will not go out of her way to protect the third of the women in her state against what seems pretty gauranteed to happen to them.
An article in the Juneau Empire last January cited a state trooper, in regards to new studies about the prevalence of the violence, as saying:
"Time is critical," he said. "We need to give troopers more time. We need to refocus them."
The trooper said he hoped the study would lead to increased staffing and resources. Did he know Palin was trying to cut the trooper budget by $2.5 million then, despite the state swimming in billions of dollars of surplus?
People are surprised when they see Palin's reported "support" rating, and then anyone from Alaska who speaks out. Some of them will be actual supporters, come hell or high water. For some of them, it is the novelty factor, a "hot" female governor who is getting all this attention (she got national attention before this, and Alaskan's took note - Vogue magazine, the Craig Ferguson show.) For some, they approve of her governing the state, but NOT as VP.
I still can't believe I haven't heard much about WHY she had such a high approval rating right off the bat! Everyone knew coming in she was following the unseating of an incredibly unpopular governor. Gov. Murkowski had the worst rating of any governor in the country. All she had to do for the first year was not be Murkowski - her approval rating was literally in the 90's before she had done anything at all.
And for Alaskans, everything is about oil. She made big hay about getting that "pipeline for Alaska"... that will be made by Canada. And, oh yeah, might not be built despite the hundreds of millions she's giving them. But people now associate her with oil. Even democrats run on a "drill now" platform, if they want to consider getting votes.
And by the way, she gave each and every Alaskan $1200 a few weeks ago. You think that doesn't inspire "approval?"
When it comes down to it, Gov. Palin hasn't made a difference in any of the real issues of the state, and her stand on sexual abuse is turning back the clock. We can't afford to go back - we've been the bottom rung state in this area for nearly half of our existence as a state. We may be number one for wealth, but the poverty of solutions for the worst problems is becoming more and more apparent.