Wow. Just… wow.
Let’s try an experiment: If you know someone who was raped, sexually assaulted, or a victim of domestic violence, go ahead and tell them that they’re a distraction. Go ahead, I dare you.
What’s that? You wouldn’t even do this as a dare? I didn’t think so.
However, not everyone feels this way. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R – as if that surprises anyone), vetoed nearly half a million dollars ($453,000 to be exact) that was slated to go toward domestic violence and sexual assault prevention. And she did so by saying that rape and sexual assault prevention programs “distract from” the Department of Health’s mission, because sexual assault victims are “only a small portion” of South Carolinians who need help.
“…we extend our sympathy and encouragement, but nevertheless, it is only a small portion of South Carolina’s chronically ill or abused.”
First off, what? Chronicially ill? I wasn’t made aware that being raped or abused is a disease of which someone can be cured.
Secondly, how will this even be distracting? Appoint the funds, appoint a committee to oversee the funds, and then move on to the next thing. Not only that, but this is a very distinctive part of overall health. So you only want to focus on the chronically ill? What about the woman (or man) who is in the hospital for broken bones repeatedly? So you want to make sure she has health coverage then, but you can’t be bothered to take steps that might prevent her from getting hurt in the first place?
And finally… Is the governor aware that the possibility of rape and assault affect every woman, herself included? It is therefore both inpossible to quantify the number of women helped by rape crisis centers by the number of actual victims. Prevention efforts affect and protect all women.
Not to mention, since victims of these crimes already feel lost and isolated, does Haley realize that she’s just belittled them further by making light of their situation? It also shows that she’s ignorant of the facts, since South Carolina’s rate of sexual violence has been higher than the national average for three decades, and is seventh in the country for women killed by men.
According to South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Executive Director Pamela Jacobs states that the coalition’s 15 sexual assault programs in South Carolina helped over 5,000 victims in 2011 — over half of which were children — and emergency hotline workers answered over 7,000 calls. SCCADVASA’s programs also provide prevention education to over 50,000 South Carolina students, which helps prevent sexual violence before it occurs. If this veto is not overridden, rape crisis centers will lose 37% of their current state funding.
But again, why are we even surprised by this? Last month Haley rejected a bill that would have offered an optional HPV vaccine to young women – despite having co-sponsored a mandatory vaccine bill while she was a state representative. Lawmakers had an opportunity to override this veto during a special session of the General Assembly, but failed. The Assembly, which has traditionally overriden the majority of Governor Haley’s vetoes, did not overturn the HPV vaccine veto, but will meet soon with lawmakers who are attempting to overturn these vetoes of the rape crisis center funding and other programs