Stateside

Sarah Palin’s rape policy: charge the victims for tests

Guest post by tim

The state of Alaska has the highest rate of rape and sexual assault in the USA. Yet as mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin oversaw a policy to charge rape victims for forensic examinations.

When then-governor Tony Knowles became aware of the policy, after receiving complaints, legislation was introduced in the state legislature to outlaw the policy.

Peggy Wilcox, an Alaskan legislative staffer who worked on the legislation…, said, “It was more than a couple of cases, and it was standard practice in Wasilla.”

Palin’s press office perhaps sensed the potential impact of the story.

Palin spokesperson Maria Comella would not answer questions about when Palin learned of Wasilla’s policy or whether she tried to change it.

But she added that Palin “does not believe, nor has she ever believed, that rape victims should have to pay for an evidence-gathering test.”

Well that seems a little surprising. It is impossible to believe that in a town of 6,000 people, the mayor was unaware of the policy. Or, that if she was against it, she did not have the power to change it.

Palin claimed in her Republican convention speech that “a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.”

Those actual responsibilities included a policy of charging rape victims for their own examinations. Unfortunately for Palin, information is now coming to light which ties her firmly to this obnoxious policy. The former chief of police says the policy was introduced on her watch, by her new appointee, and the budget changes were signed off by her.

The Republican party are keen to use Palin’s candidacy to attract the votes of women in the November election. It is difficult to imagine a policy more cruel, and specifically anti-women, than charging rape victims who, as residents of Alaska, already face the highest risk in the nation of being victims of sex crimes.

Her vice presidential rival Joe Biden cannot have imagined while guiding the Violence against Women Act through the Senate that within a few years, an obscure Alaska mayor would have approved a policy that penalised the victims of sexual assault.

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