A Culture of Violence Against Women: More Than Rape Kits

Americans have recently learned that during the 1990s, Wasilla, Alaska,
then under the mayoralty of Sarah Palin, charged
victims of sexual assault for the rape kits
used for evidence collection.

Attacks from progressives have been swift and harsh. There
is good reason to hunt down the facts about the rape kits.  But the larger issue – of rape, sexual
assault and how we deal with violence against women in this country – has been

First the facts:

Last week new evidence arose revealing that under Palin’s
administration, Wasilla cut funds
that paid for the rape kits and shifted the burden onto the victims
themselves  or their insurance companies
(kits generally cost between $500-$1200). Under Wasilla Police Chief Irl
Stambaugh, the town had included the cost of rape kits in the budget. But Palin
fired Stambaugh and replaced him with Charlie Fannon, who then took the money out of the budget – a budget Palin
approved. Fannon evidently did not have a problem with billing victims, though
he admitted that he would rather see the perpetrator pay for the rape kits
(without elaborating on how that realistically or successfully might occur).

The town law did not change until Alaska state legislators
got wind of what was happening (in Wasilla and other small towns) and
introduced a bill, signed into law in 2000, making it illegal for "any law
enforcement agency to bill victims or victims insurance companies for the costs
of examinations that take place to collect evidence of a sexual assault or
determine if a sexual assault did occur."

Fannon immediately objected, stating in an article on
May 23, 2000 that "…the law will require the city and communities to come up
with more funds to cover the costs of the forensic exams…I just don’t want to
see any more burdens on the tax payer." Fannon did not explain why rape victims
should pay for their evidence collection kits while victims of burglary, for
example, would not.

Since the story broke, Sarah Palin has been taken to task by
progressives and rape victim advocates who are furious about the policy and
demanding an explanation as to why Palin not only allowed this practice under
her leadership, she oversaw its institution. Thus far, Palin’s response to the issue has been denial.
Said a spokesperson for her campaign:

"[Sarah Palin] does not believe, nor has she ever
believed, that rape victims should have to pay for an evidence-gathering
test…To suggest otherwise is a deliberate misrepresentation of her commitment
to supporting victims and bringing violent criminals to justice"


Though no one, as far as I’ve read, has been able to
successfully explain Wasilla’s detrimental policy, conservatives have fought
back, raising the fact that other states, towns and municipalities have charged
rape victims for their kits as well. The National Review Online called
out Illinois
for "charging some rape victims." The practice of charging
rape victims for evidence collection still occurs more often around the country
than it should. US News & World Report recently reported on the problem:

In order to qualify for federal grants under the Violence
Against Women Act, states have to assume the full out-of-pocket costs for
forensic medical exams, as the rape kits are called. But according to a 2004
bulletin published by the NCVC [National Center for Victims of Crime], "[F]eedback from the field indicates
that sexual assault victims are still being billed." [emphasis mine]


And while a policy charging sexual assault victims for any
kind of evidence collection, treatment or care is heinous, there is a larger
issue at play. It’s easy to get caught up in the partisan anger – the volleying
of stories back and forth that "prove" the deceitful intent of one campaign or
another, the information that will surely reveal how evil one or another
candidate truly is. But the media has been missing the most important part of
the story.

To discuss the rape kit story without addressing what kinds
of policies, as a nation, we must put forward in order to address violence
against women – the causes of violence, the symptoms and how it can be curbed –
does nothing to further the dialogue, find solutions and heal some of our most
gaping wounds.

Bigger Questions About Rape and Sexual Violence in Alaska

According to Amnesty International, one out of every three
women in the world has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her
lifetime. In the United
States, a woman is raped every 6 minutes. In
global conflicts and wars, rape is widespread – a tool of war.

Instead of hashing and re-hashing a budget line under Sarah
Palin’s mayoralty, we need to put forward questions to be asked about and of
the candidates that will allow us to understand what they have done or will do,
concretely, to reduce violence against women, at home and abroad.

According to the National
Coalition Against Domestic Violence
, Alaska’s
rape rate is 2.5 times the national average. Alaska also has the highest rate per capita
of men murdering women. Ninety percent of Alaskans would vote to increase
funding for victim service programs because, according to the coalition,
"programs are in dire need of more funding in order to serve the sheer volume
of victims." Seventy-five percent of Alaskans have been or know someone who has
been the victim of sexual assault or domestic violence. Alaska’s domestic violence shelters, sexual
assault services and programs for survivors have seen a relatively small
increase in funding. In 2008, the state
included an additional $300,000 in funding for victims services
programs. In 2009, according to Alaska’s Council
on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
, Governor Palin’s budget
includes an increase in funds to help shelters offset the higher costs of fuel,
utilities and insurance.

But the extraordinary levels of violence against women in the
state of Alaska
and the underlying causes still require a much greater level of state-level
funding and oversight.  According to the Alliance for Reproductive Justice, who
lobbied to address Alaska’s
rates of domestic violence and sexual assault, when explicitly asked to address
these issues in 2007, the Governor did not respond. The Alliance has this to say on their web site:

Governor Palin did not deliver and did not take a
leadership role on any of these issues. In fact, this year, when there was a 7
billion dollar state surplus she did not step up to the plate for the women and
children of Alaska…we
were truly disappointed with her lack of action on this critical public health


Most of Alaska’s
funding for sexual assault and violence against women programs comes from the federal

Pro-Active Policy Addressing Violence Against Women

What does
responsible policy look like for dealing with violence against women?

In Illinois
one out of every seven adult women are the victims of forcible rape. This
number does not include women who have been the victims of attempted rape,
young women and men – including children – under the age of 18 years old, or
male victims of rape.

In Illinois
an amendment
to the Crime Victims Compensation Act was passed in 2001, co-sponsored by
Sen. Barack Obama, to ensure that sexual assault victims (or victims
of other violent crimes) can be reimbursed
for expenses
they may incur. In addition, Illinois has on the books the Sexual
Assault Emergency Treatment Act
, which mandates reimbursement for (among other services) STI testing, emergency contraception
and rape kits if Illinoians don’t have public aid or private health insurance.

legislators considered sexual assault, rape, domestic violence and other
violent crimes where women make up the majority of the victims important
enough an issue to address it pro-actively and with conviction. Illinois has enacted a range of legislation that seeks to
address the multiple layers of responses needed to adequately address sexual
assault including the Violent Crimes Victime Assistance Program, The Sexual
Assault Nurse Examiner Program, and the Illinois Victims
Assistance Academy.

And while it is true that only three out of every 10 rapes go
reported to law enforcement, Illinois
saw a decline in the
number of reported rapes and sexual assault from 1998 to 2006; from 6,146 in
1998 to 5,646 in 2006.

Candidates Take Stands on VAWA

The mother of all legislation dealing with violence against
women is the Violence
Against Women Act
(VAWA), spearheaded by Sen. Joe Biden and after years of
lobbying, passed in 1994. VAWA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton,
renewed in 2000 and expanded in 2005 (signed by President George W. Bush).

VAWA’s intent is to improve the national response to
domestic violence and sexual assault. VAWA combines a series of federal
sanctions and initiatives as well as national, state, and local resources to
improve the response to crimes against women. These funds are committed to four
specific areas: prosecution, law enforcement, victim service, and courts.

Sen. Biden foresaw the need for such legislation to,
among many other things, infuse crucial funds into state systems to fight
violence against women.  In fact, Alaska’s Council on
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault relies on monies from this act. The act requires
federal fund grantees (states, Indian tribal governments or local governments)
to cover the costs associated with forensic medical exams (including rape kits) in
order to receive any VAWA funds. In order to receive these funds, therefore, Alaska state legislators
in 2000, under Democratic Governor Tony Knowles, instituted the state law banning
law enforcement departments from charging rape victims for their rape

Curiously, while Alaska
receives crucial funds from the VAWA act in order to administer its sexual
assault programs, Sen. John McCain voted against VAWA twice.

Sexual Violence Against Military Women, Native Women

There’s another layer of complexity to any story about the
candidates and sexual violence. John McCain’s military service to this country
is well known; his experience as a POW is a narrative he uses to explain how he
has and will prioritize our military should he become president.

It is worth asking, then, how a leader for whom a soldier’s
life is so important will deal with the rates of sexual assault against women
in the military. One in three women are sexually assaulted in the military.
Women serving in the U.S.
military are more
likely to be raped
by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire.  The situation is so dire Congress called a
hearing this summer specifically to examine sexual assault in the military.

What about Barack Obama? In the wake of the congressional
hearings, will he take a lead in examining what the Pentagon could and should
do to deal with this issue?

These are not the only stories of rape and violence against
women in this country. One in three Native women will
be raped
in her lifetime. Many of those women live on reservations where it
is often the case that, because of bureaucratic confusion over just whose
domain they fall under – Bureau of Indian Affairs, state government or federal
government – perpetrators are rarely prosecuted.

What steps would Senators Obama and McCain take to address
the devastating "maze
of injustice"
that Native women on reservations face when dealing with
protection from or prosecutions for rape and sexual assault?

These are the questions to which I want answers. These are
the central issues of a campaign, of an election to which Americans must pay
attention.  If rape victims have been
charged for rape kits in municipalities, towns, cities and states around this
country, we deserve to know why. But let’s not sell ourselves short. We deserve
to know a lot more than that. The system is broken. Revealing a hole here and a
scratch there unearths some superficial problems. If women are going to decide
this election, we should do so based on the policies that impact women most,
and which candidates will actually help women outside of politics. We can do
this by asking the important questions:

Which set of candidates understands best how to remedy the
culture of violence perpetuated against women in this nation and globally?
Which set of candidates pro-actively creates policies that address the root
causes of rape and sexual assault? Which set of candidates do we trust to raise
the status of women in this country and work internationally to do the same?
Which set of candidates’ legislative and leadership records reveal genuine
attempts at fixing the problems their various constituents face when it comes
to rape, sexual assault and other forms of violence against women? 

Asserting these questions in media coverage and exploring
the answers requires a deeper investigation. But the process will bring us
closer to what we really need to know about how our candidates prioritize
violence against women and the kinds of policies they would or wouldn’t

Rape kits are but one part of the story.

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For more information or to schedule an interview with contact press@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • http://dezertdiva.wordpress.com invalid-0

    Very very well done.

  • http://mavenhaven.blogspot.com invalid-0

    Thanks for this–very considered and informative. Exactly the kind of thing I need to be able to point to instead of seizing on a single piece of the puzzle.

  • http://www.xanga.com/andrea_thenerd invalid-0

    What a great piece! This is very useful, and I will be sharing it with everyone.

  • http://feministavengers.blogspot.com invalid-0

    Thank you! This was a fantastic piece on rape culture and the election, instead of an over-simplified use of rape kits as talking point. Thank you, thank you.

    Here is the feminist avenger take on rape kits being used as a talking point.

  • heather-corinna

    Amie, this is just freaking fantastic.

  • invalid-0

    I appreciate the comments and it’s good to know (though not surprising!) that so many others feel the same way! It’s about how we prioritize women – the appalling violence perpetuated daily against women in this country and globally has been a non-issue in this election so far.

    Amie Newman

    Managing Editor, RH Reality Check

  • invalid-0

    Thank you so much for your article! When I was 5 years old, I was abducted from my front yard and raped, so as you can imagine, the news that rape victims are being charged for their forensics tests raises my hackles as few issues could! We need to do everything in our power to get this story as much play as possible in the MSM.

  • http://www.ravingatheist.com invalid-0

    Once again, a baseless, fact-free smear of Governor Palin which is contradicted by all the available evidence.
    (1) The available FBI statistics do not support the conclusion that there was a single rape in Wasilla from the time Palin took office until the law went in to effect in 2000.
    (2) According to the legislative history of the bill (did you bother looking at it, Annie??), the only evidence before the committee was a letter from a woman in Juneau who indicated that she discovered that her insurance had been billed for a kit.
    (3) The testimony before the committee was that due to hospital accounting procedures in Mat-Su, Anchorage, Kenai and Sitka and possibly in Bethel, insurers may have been billed for rape kits.
    (4) The testimony before the committee was that hospitals would mistakenly bill for the kits because they didn’t realize the tests were ordered as part of a police investigation.
    (5) The testimony before the committee was that there was NO case in Alaska which a victim received a bill for the kit.
    (6) The testimony before the committee was that bills had been sent to insurers in isolated instances in various parts of Alaska since at least 1982.
    (7) The bill’s sponsor testified that there were a couple of approaches to paying for the kits; some jurisdictions gave lump sum grants to hospitals to pay for them, while others made the police departments pay (which sometimes led to conflicts over which one had jurisdiction over the offense).
    (8) The bill’s sponsor testified that it was still necessary to bill insurance for the kits in cases involving minors, because a group called “Alaska Cares” handled those cases and would be put out of business if it could not do so.
    (9) Your statement that Palin “allowed this practice under her leadership, she oversaw its institution” is an outright lie for which you have do not have an iota of proof.
    (10) Your claim that funds were put in the Wasilla budget for rape kits, and then taken out, is an outright lie for which you do not have an iota of proof. And unlike you, Annie, I’ve reviewed the budgets.
    (11) Fannon (and it’s unclear if he was even directly quoted in the original Frontierman article) never said that he instituted a policy of charging rape victims for kits in Wasilla. He noted that in the past the city and other communities had sought to charge insurers where possible (which they still do for minors). Once again, there’s no evidence of a single rape in Wasilla during the relevant period, and certainly no evidence that a single victim’s insurer was charged in Wasilla during that time. Fannon also advocated making the criminal pay for the kit.
    The purported purpose of this piece is to get beyond the “partisan anger” and address the “larger issue.” From what I can see, you discuss the larger issue just to give you a pretext to smear Palin and praise Obama. But you’ve completely failed, because your attack on Palin is nonsense. And all you’ve demonstrated is that Illinois’ policy under Obama is much WORSE — the victims ALWAYS pay out their insurance, and have to pay up front and then seek reimbursement if they’re uninsured. That never happened in Wasilla!

  • invalid-0

    Charging vicims of crimes for their crme kits is reprehensible. Shall we also charge them for court costs?! (Perhaps I oughtn’t put that though into any clod’s head.)

    One thing: I think it unlikely that 1/7 of the women in Illinois will be raped. (I assume that reflects chances over a lifeime, not annually.) How on earth did you arrive at such a figure?

    One rape is one rape too many, and I fully understand and share in the outrage. However, these figures strike me as incredible.

    Are you neglecting to account for those unfortunate women who are the victims of multiple or serial rapes? Granted, it is all the more horrific for the women involved, but to treat them as unrelated crimes (suggesting different victims) would skew the data.

    I live in Illinois, (Chicago, specifically), and I find the conclusion astonishing.

  • invalid-0

    The numbers are astonishing because of the culture of silence around rape and sexual abuse. This is not something that people put on bumper stickers or t-shirts. I was raped. It took years for me to come out about it and to seek help. I have not reported it for many personal reasons, so I am one more person who is not included in the statistics. Once I began healing and looking at the numbers I could not believe how many of us there are either. Until I started to meet them. Almost every time I have shared my story I have heard another person’s story. I have found out that my mother was raped and several of my friends have been raped or sexually abused. I went from thinking I was the only one to knowing we are everywhere. If you question the numbers look up statistics yourself, there are lots of resources. A google search is enough to blow your mind. I agree with you, they are truely astonishing.

  • invalid-0

    Hi Anonymous,
    Thanks for the opportunity to clarify the Illinois number of forcible rapes.
    It should read: One out of every seven women have been the victims of forcible rape – using the word "are", I can see, may give the impression that is the number of women who will be raped.

    The information comes from the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

    Amie Newman

    Managing Editor, RH Reality Check

  • http://thewip.net/ invalid-0

    Dear Ms. Newman,

    The Women’s International Perspective (www.thewip.net) linked to this article in our Byline Portal today. Thank you very much for this important piece.

    You can find the link here:

    It would be a pleasure to link to your future articles, so do please stay in touch.

    Best regards,
    Aralena Malone-Leroy

  • invalid-0

    You might wish to read this article:


    before you continue to brag on your research skills which appear to have missed a great deal of easily available information.

    A couple of paragraphs which make you appear rather partisan and dishonest:

    “Until the 2000 legislation, local law enforcement agencies in Alaska could pass along the cost of the exams, which are needed to obtain an attacker’s DNA evidence. Rape victims in several areas of Alaska, including the Matanuska-Susitna Valley where Wasilla is, complained about being charged for the tests, victims’ advocate Lauree Hugonin, of the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, told state House committees, records show.”

    “It is not known how many rape victims in Wasilla were required to pay for some or all of the medical exams, but a legislative staffer who worked on the bill for Croft said it happened. “It was more than a couple of cases, and it was standard practice in Wasilla,” Peggy Wilcox said, who now works for the Alaska Public Employees Association. “If you were raped in Wasilla, this was going to happen to you.”

    Women were raped in Wasilla and they or their insurance companies were forced to pay for their own forensic work. This is work that was and should usually be billed to the State troopers or Municipal police agencies elsewhere in Alaska.

    Oh and Fannon, Mrs Palin’s appointee, is directly quoted in numerous articles rationalizing his department’s policy as one which would save the taxpayers money. I note with some satisfaction that Mr Fallon is no longer police chief and that he has had his phone disconnected.

  • invalid-0

    Do you have a CREDIBLE source for your claims?

  • http://www,ravingatheist.com invalid-0

    Do you have a CREDIBLE source for your claims?
    Uh, why YES, Catseye. In fact, I linked to it in my original post. It’s the CONTEMPORANEOUS LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE BILL!!!!! READ IT!!!!! It COMPLETELY REFUTES the unsourced, uncorroborated LIES quoted by “Anonymous” in the the eight-years later US NEWS article — LIES invented for political purposes by the very same people who testified, quite differently, in front of the Committee.
    a legislative staffer who worked on the bill for Croft said it happened. “It was more than a couple of cases, and it was standard practice in Wasilla,” Peggy Wilcox said, who now works for the Alaska Public Employees Association. “If you were raped in Wasilla, this was going to happen to you.”
    WOW. They had all this blockbuster information in 2000, and yet deliberately withheld it . . . instead admitting that there was not a SINGLE case in which a woman was ever made to pay out-of-pocket in all of Alaska . . . and presenting as their only evidence that a woman in JUNEAU found out that her insurer was billed?
    From the March 10, 2000 minutes:
    these charges occur as a result of hospital accounting
    procedures. The range of costs can be from between $300-
    $1000 dollars. The direct charges usually result from the
    accounting procedures at the hospitals and not the law
    enforcement agencies.

    From the March 23, 2000 minutes:
    AUREE HUGONIN, Director, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, came forward to testify. She clarified that while it may be true that Deputy Commissioner Smith may not have found an instance where law enforcement has forwarded a bill, hospitals have.

  • invalid-0

    I find it hard to trust the Raving Atheist’s claim that s/he has the best facts in this case, as s/he was not even able to discern that the name of the author of this piece is “Amie” and not “Annie.”

    Forgive me, I know this is a bit below the belt, but I couldn’t resist.

  • http://www.ravingatheist.com invalid-0

    I know this is a bit below the belt, but I couldn’t resist.
    Not at all, Alison — quite frankly, your typo-nitpicking is probably the most accurate analysis to be found on this site. After all, there’s no disputing that “m” is not “nn.” Very observant.
    Fortunately, though, you don’t have to “trust” my claim — you can read the legislative history at the the link I provided. A handful of hospitals mistakenly billed a few insurers for tests performed — that’s the whole scandal. But suddenly eight years later everyone’s remembering there was a rape epidemic in Wasilla (despite FBI stats showing zero rapes) and that the cops were exorting women for thousands of dollars before they’d commence an investigation, all at Sarah Palin’s behest.
    Talk about below the belt.

  • invalid-0

    Why not try ‘the Google’ and run a news search? Should you do so you will discover that most major newspapers confirmed the information in the USA Today article. I used that cite because it’s a national paper. By doing so I was suggesting that your research skills and/or conclusions are dubious. Even the now discredited former police chief (and Palin apointee) says that billing rape victims for their rape kit workup was his department’s policy. Well, before he had his phone disconnected he was saying that.
    That said, perhaps you should call up USA today and try to bully them into accepting your spin because I don’t think you’re going to have much luck here.

    We’re aware that hospitals perform the exam, the problem is that rather than bill the Wasilla police department the hospital was forced to bill the crime victim’s insurer or the crime victim herself for the collection of forensic evidence. It is this practice that others (although apparently not you, the pet Police Chief or Mrs Palin) object to. According to Tony Knowles, Wasilla was the only town in Alaska that forced hospitals to bill rape victims. He’s certainly far more credible than you, a man who lies to, bullys and insults the women here almost daily.

  • http://www.ravingatheist.com invalid-0

    If you had done a Google search, you would have discovered, like me, that any paper that reported the story merely repeated the erroneous information that I’ve refuted with the legislative history. More than likely you DID find that — and that’s why your comment doesn’t contain a single link supporting your position.
    We’re aware that hospitals perform the exam, the problem is that rather than bill the Wasilla police department the hospital was forced to bill the crime victim’s insurer or the crime victim herself for the collection of forensic evidence.
    You don’t supply a shred of evidence that any victim (or even an insurer) was ever billed in Wasilla — or, in fact, that there was even a rape in Wasilla prior to the passage of the bill. And the budget documents and FBI stats refute that notion.
    According to Tony Knowles, Wasilla was the only town in Alaska that forced hospitals to bill rape victims.

    Once again, a lie completely refuted by the contemporaneous legislative history. Read it! Knowles — a Democrat defeated by Palin for the Governorship — did not first make this claim until 2008 at an Obama press conference. Great source!
    He’s certainly far more credible than you, a man who lies to, bullys and insults the women here almost daily.
    Yes, I bullied them into retracting the outrageous lie that Governor Palin slashed special needs funding, and the outrageous lie (repeated by the Washington Post, a “national paper”) that Palin slashed funding for pregnant teens. And I “lied” with links to actual budget documents and legislative history. And now they’re promoting the lie that Palin billed victims for rape kits (do you see the pattern?), and I’m bullying them out of that in the same way.
    I guess you just want Alaska to operate the way Obama-Illinois does — force victims to pay up front for the investigation, and then later apply to the crime victims’ compensation board.

  • invalid-0

    So, ALL the newspapers and all the Democrats, even the one who was Governor at the time the law was changed, were wrong or lying? Only you and your fellow wing nuts know the truth?

    Was the now discredited former Police Chief and Palin appointee wrong when he publically admitted to this practice? Was he lying when he was stupid enough to publically oppose the new law because his and Mrs Palin’s practice of forcing rape victims to pay for their own forensic exam because it saved the tax payers a few thousand dollars? Or do all the newspapers have that wrong too?

  • http://www.ravingatheist.com invalid-0

    Yes, the former Governor’s brand new statements are lies, as I’ve demonstrated with the contemporaneous legislative history. And yes, the newspapers were wrong to repeat the lies, just as they were wrong to repeat the lies about Palin slashing special needs funds, a lie which even this site retracted.
    By your failure to cite and link to any contrary evidence, you have conceded that you too are merely repeating the lies and that you know that everything that I have stated is true. This discussion is therefore over, and you have lost.

  • invalid-0

    Sorry, no, I was trying to point out the absurdity of a few of your poorly made arguments. The fact of the matter is that when Sarah Palin was Mayor of Wasilla the police chief she appointed made it the town’s policy to charge rape victims for the processing of their own forensic evidence and Mrs Palin allowed and encouraged this practice. The state was forced to change the law. And Mrs Palin is a woman who would force all women and even her young daughters to carry to term the child of a rapist.
    I can understand why that might make her attractive to social conservatives but no one has ever accused social conservatives of basic fairness, decency or, most of all, honesty

  • harry834

    I hate to take his side, but Atheist is right that nit-picking over a typo is a weak rebuttal of his argument. On the other hand, I appreciate the humor. Grammar is almost as funny as math, which I’m pretty good at.

    But enough about me. Has anyone looked at the link Atheist provided? Does it provide any legit info? If so, I’d like to know. If not, let’s spell it out. Then we will have better fodder for argument than typos…but only if his information shows true. Is it?

  • invalid-0

    You don’t know that – her daughter having her boyfriend’s baby is way different then some sick stranger forcibly raping and then impregnating you. Maybe even Saint Palin would have a heart and let her terrified daughter decide if she want’s to keep the child of the object of her nightmares and constant fear for years (maybe for the rest of her life)

  • invalid-0

    If we’re nit-picking, I’d like to add that the nearest hospital at that time was not actually in Wasilla, but in Palmer. Might skew the stats a hair, as far as where most rape kits were actually performed, though not where rapes were reported. I am from Wasilla, and yes, there were rapes during that period. There hasn’t been a time in the history of the town that rapes haven’t been occurring, officially or not.
    Raving Atheist had a conversion a while back to an adamant anti-abortion view which, while commendable that he feels so strongly about it, led me to stop reading his blog. Considering his uncompromising stance, I would personally take him with a grain of salt on any issue involving women and rape. Your mileage may vary.

  • invalid-0

    I have a friend who is 23 and has been raped four separate times throughout her life by 2 different men. As far as I know she never reported them to police. I don’t understand the view that if no rapes were reported then no rapes occurred. It’s a failure of empathy. How hard is it to put yourself in the shoes of a rape victim, truly think about what an awful, humilating, crushing experience it must be, and then imagine how enthusiastic you are going to be about rushing to tell everyone all about it, especially in our culture of rape-apologism. Now think of how many people are out there like my friend. I have other close female friends who have also been raped or attempted to be raped. Somehow I don’t think this is because I somehow “attract” rape victims.
    Raving Atheist, you missed the point of the whole article, which is that instead of focussing on this one instance of misogny as if it exists in a vacuum, there should be a broader public discourse in this election about what fosters violence against women and ways to stop it.

  • invalid-0

    I don’t understand how over and over again people can pontificate on how awful things were up at Wasilla where the police chief had the audacity to bill insurance companies for women’s rape kits without acknowledging that it is a wide spread componenent in MOST states Victim’s Compensation Acts. Including the one referenced above in Illinois. Obama did sponsor an amendment relating to emergency reimbursement and a few other matters but it did not however prevent women from having to seek reimbursement from their PRIVATE insurance FIRST! The bill’s actual language:

    (g) Compensation under this Act is a secondary source of compensation and the applicant must show that he or she has exhausted the benefits reasonably available under the Criminal Victims’ Escrow Account Act or any governmental or medical or health insurance programs, including but not limited to Workers’ Compensation, the Federal Medicare program, the State Public Aid program, Social Security Administration burial benefits, Veterans Administration burial benefits, and life, health, accident or liability insurance.

    A quick read of various states show the same language in WI, MI, SC, NC, CA and then I got sick of looking. The only state that I found that specifically compensates women without billing their insurance companies that I found are NY and MN.

  • invalid-0

    I don’t understand how social conservatives can expect us to take them seriously when they cannot do decent research or form a decent argument. Your post provides to links and just an out of context quote and an unsubstantiated claim that most States bill insurance companies (and then the uninsured individual? because that was the practice in Wasilla) for processing rape kits. That’s an outrageous claim, you do not provide any cites and you compeltely ignore the fact that many women are not insured.
    Here is an example of good research on the topic Please read it

  • invalid-0

    Well, now that we’re citing the Congressional Record, I’d like to note another problem with the article factually.

    The author states that the Violence Against Women Act was opposed by McCain twice. This is not true. He voted against the 1994 omnibus bill (http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=103&session=2&vote=00295) and then the 2005 version passed in Jan. 2006 with Unanimous Consent (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:SN01197:@@@L&summ2=m&#major%20actions) Further, the allocation of money for the VAWA 2005 was also passed by unanimous consent (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:SN03693:@@@L&summ2=m&)

    Concerning his vote against the 1994 bill, it should be known that the Supreme Court declared parts of the bill unconstitutional (http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1999/1999_99_5/) – and indeed this might reaffirm his highly-flaunted status as a “maverick” in actually reading the bill and adhering to the Constitution. In this case, it seems that he voted with his brain, a very valuable tool indeed for a president.