Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205
03/01/2016 08:30 AM STATE AFFAIRS
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SCR 20-SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH: APRIL 2016 8:31:57 AM CHAIR STOLTZE announced the consideration of SCR 20. 8:32:02 AM SENATOR KEVIN MEYER, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, sponsor of SCR 20, provided an overview as follows: SCR 20 proclaims April 2016 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month; it's part of a national campaign to raise the awareness of sexual assault and educate communities on how to prevent sexual violence. I'm sure you're going, "We've heard this before," and we have, we bring this forward every year; but, as you know, the sexual assaults statistics nationwide and in Alaska are staggering, they are even worse here in Alaska, in fact research suggests that 2.5 times the national rate. The Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault conducts an annual victimization survey and they will speak to some of those statistics in more depth. Mr. Chairman, sexual violence is preventable, it's a social, public health, criminal justice, human rights issue. This year, 2016 Sexual Awareness Month Campaign focuses on the building blocks of prevention by communicating how individuals, communities, and the private sector can take action to promote safety, respect, and equality. We hope that SCR 20 will help to broaden and strengthen that effort across the state. CHAIR STOLTZE stated that the committee was very familiar with the issue and that Senator Meyer has annually brought the resolution forward. He remarked that the issue was 12 months and not 1 month. He added that the 2016 Sexual Awareness Month was part of a national campaign. 8:34:55 AM LAUREE MORTON, Executive Director, Council of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (CDVSA), Juneau, Alaska, provided a statement of support as follows: In 2010, the Alaska Victimization Survey showed that 58 out of every 100 Alaska women have suffered intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or both over the course of their lifetime. In 2015, five years after, we resurveyed and the news is encouraging, it's still too high, it's still horrible, but now it is down to 50 out of every 100 women have suffered these crimes, particular to sexual assault, it has decreased by 33 percent: 3072 fewer victims in 2015 than in 2010. So we still have a long way to go, we appreciate your support. I did want to say that there is hope and there are communities across our state that are working very diligently to end sexual violence in our state, they are doing such with programs like: Green Dot, Coaching Boys into Men, Girls on the Run, The Fourth R; they are looking within themselves as communities to find their strengths and resiliencies to be able to stand up and say "no more" and we support those efforts. 8:36:31 AM CHAIR STOLTZE addressed the handling of sexual assault information at the University of Alaska as follows: There was a lot of rumor and thither about how much cover up there was. I'm trying to think when I first entered the UAF campus in 1979 until my graduation in the early 80s about the prevalence of sexual assaults and domestic violence, stalking, and just basically violations against women that was, for public relations matters, covered up by the university system. Now 35 years later, there was still that issue and its sending shock waves through. He asked Ms. Morton if she had a comment on the university system and inquired how confident a young woman or their parent should feel in attending there. MS. MORTON replied as follows: One of things that we have started to do in offering our services to assist the university is working with their Title IX coordinators. Last fall we sent them to a national conference where the very issue of sexual assault on university campuses was addressed. We've also been working with Senator Sullivan at the congressional area to look at ways in which we can strengthen support for women on campus who want to report sexual assaults. We've been working with the university in Fairbanks to institute Green Dot and to look at ways in which people can work together to create safety for women there. We realize it's an issue, it's on our May calendar to be able to receive more information from the university and we are very open to finding ways to work with them to support that. 8:38:31 AM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI joined the committee meeting. CHAIR STOLTZE continued to address the university system as follows: There's been a lot of talk since I was a student there and it certainly was kind of a quiet buzz and kind of a systemically disguised problem at the university and I haven't seen it, it almost seems in many ways gotten worse and it's that spill-out. Is this really going to be solved by another conference and what systemic things do you see? This is right in our face right now, even more so. The spill-out has been pretty obvious and some of the restructuring at the university. MS. MORTON noted that CDVSA has suggested to the University of Alaska that they work through the Office of Violence Against Women to take advantage of grants that addressed assaults on university campuses. CHAIR STOLTZE remarked that he sees why a young woman might risk expulsion in order to have a gun to protect herself. MS. MORTON replied that the decision would be up to the individual. CHAIR STOLTZE continued to address his concern for the university system as follows: I think we have a lot deeper to delve into the university and it has been a systemic concern back from when I was a student. My uncles were students, they said it was the same way and it's the culture of a university structure wanting to protect its image. If you're worried about recruitment and trying to entice Alaskans to stay, you don't want to tell your dirty secrets. He summarized that protecting people required awareness. SENATOR COGHILL asked what a Title IX counselor was and where does a person in the university go to seek assistance. 8:41:22 AM MS. MORTON replied as follows: Title IX is a title in federal statute for protections in different areas for students. I think most people associate it with equity in sports programming, but it's much broader than that; particularly in this instance, relates to sexual assaults and addressing it equitably on campuses. If someone, anyone, is concerned about sexual assault or they've been sexually assaulted, they are welcomed to go to any of the funded programs. In Fairbanks it would be the Interior Alaska Center for Nonviolent Living. In Anchorage it would be Standing Together Against Rape (STAR) or Abused Women's Aid in Crisis (AWAIC). Here in Juneau it would be the Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies (AWARE). For the college campuses throughout the state, communities such as Bethel, there's Tender Women's Collation. So people can go onto our website to find a list of those service communities or on the Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault's website; they are mostly 800 numbers, so it doesn't cost to call, it's a 24-hour service, you can talk to someone there who can work through your options and give you support as you are deciding how best for you to carry forward. CHAIR STOLTZE noted that a glaring omission was made for either contacting campus security or the dean's office. He stated that he would interpret Ms. Morton's omission as, "Not hearing it." 8:43:17 AM CARMEN LOWRY, Executive Director, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (ANDVSA), Juneau, Alaska, thanked the committee for its commitment to all of the prevention work that is ongoing in the state. She stated that ANDVSA supports SCR 20. SENATOR COGHILL addressed Alaska's sex-trade issues as follows: One of the issues that we struggle with in Alaska is when somebody gets into a relationship and then ends up in the sex-trade under duress. I think one of the struggles they have is the duress then becomes deadly in many cases. So we've tried to address from a legal perspective on penalties and everything. But what do you see from awareness to give young ladies warnings of risky relationships, things like that that we need to know from kind of the working level what's going on in the communities? 8:45:02 AM MS. LOWRY replied that clear awareness was one of the most important elements that addressed what Senator Coghill described. She detailed that local law enforcement must be fully aware of what constitutes trafficking and exploitation. She added that ANDVSA's member programs were open and prepared to receive people. She asserted that getting the message out was important where local partners address high-risk situations and make sure that people are aware. She added that getting the message out also included talking to businesses to make sure they were following regulations. SENATOR COGHILL suggested that child related trafficking and pornography be addressed as follows: I would suggest to you that in Alaska we have both the federal government and the state government working on people who are trafficking children and child pornography. We want to get a report to kind of kickoff the month of April just to show that that is actually happening in Alaska at a much greater level than any of us understand. He summarized that children involved in trafficking and pornography did not have a voice and their plight must be brought to light. MS. LOWRY thanked Senator Coghill for his suggestion. CHAIR STOLTZE thanked Ms. Lowry and noted that her February 29 letter from ANDVSA had been presented to the committee members. 8:47:06 AM CHAIR STOLTZE announced that public testimony was closed. 8:47:15 AM SENATOR COGHILL moved to report SCR 20, [29-LS1519\A], from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). 8:47:24 AM CHAIR STOLTZE announced that hearing no objection, SCR 20 is reported from the Senate State Affairs Standing Committee.