Alaska Delegation Supports Gov. Parnell’s “Choose Respect” Initiative with D.C. Rally

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Senator Lisa Murkowski joined with Senator Mark Begich and Representative Don Young in a show of support from the Alaska delegation of Governor Parnell’s “Choose Respect” initiative, in organizing a rally today in front of the U.S. Capitol, to stand together in solidarity, with their staffs and Alaskans living in D.C., against the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault that plagues Alaska. There were over sixty marches and rallies held across Alaska, from Barrow to Ketchikan, and hundreds of Alaskans participated.

“We must break the silence in every home and in every community and declare that violence and abuse is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Sen. Murkowski said. “Alaskans are standing up and speaking out in solidarity against the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska, and the victims of these acts deserve help and healing. We are both obligated and responsible, as Alaskans and as human beings, to take up this cause with passion and conviction. Through this effort, and Choosing Respect, it is my hope that Alaska can shine a light on this troubling issue.”

“We are standing together with Alaskans in Washington and across the state to break the silence and say no to domestic violence and sexual assault,” Sen. Begich said. “I want to represent a state that says NO to interpersonal violence, and NO to the deplorable statistics. I am saying NO  in the halls of Congress by supporting legislation that strengthens laws against interpersonal violence, and by supporting funding for shelter, family education and prevention.”

“I am proud to join my fellow Alaskans in showing my support of this important initiative,” said Rep. Young.  “The level of domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska is unacceptable and we cannot sit idly by and ignore it.  I commend the Governor for his work in this arena, and today we as a Delegation and we as Alaskans join him in standing up against this epidemic plaguing our state.  I have fourteen grandchildren, and I want them to be raised in a state that embraces its people and does not tolerate assault or abuse.  Our women are to be celebrated, not kept in the shadows.  These state-wide rallies are only the beginning but an important step.  Today’s rallies in DC and around Alaska are a clear and present sign that Alaskans stand together to respect our people and put an end to the violence.” 

Governor Parnell’s administration is taking a comprehensive approach to ending an epidemic of violence and abuse that has damaged Alaska’s families, homes, and communities for decades. The Choose Respect initiative is tackling these issues through legislation in three key ways: improved law enforcement and tough prosecution, protecting and advocating for survivors, and increasing education and prevention.

Over half of all women in Alaska have experienced intimate partner or sexual violence at some point in their lives. The University of Alaska’s Justice Center has found that almost 75% of victims of sex crimes in Alaska are under the age of 18. Perhaps the most troubling is the fact that Alaska’s rate of rape is still one of the highest in the nation: 2.6 times higher in Alaska than nationally, 2.9 times higher in Anchorage than nationally, and 5.1 times higher in Fairbanks than nationally.