Someplace Safe Rallies at the Capitol
"Minnesota cannot afford to compromise on public safety or health," said Sarah Deer, professor at William Mitchell College of Law and Action Day rally moderator. Over 500 women, children, and men gathered at the Minnesota State Capitol on March 6th,2012, to protest violence against women and to call on legislators to support the important programs that work in communities across Minnesota to address battering, sexual assault, stalking, sexual exploitation, and trafficking in women and girls. The event was organized by the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the Minnesota Indian Women's Sexual Assault Coalition, the Minnesota Network on Abuse in Later Life, the Sacred Hoop Coalition, and the Minnesota Men's Action Network. Youth, community members and Someplace Safe staff met with Legislators Bill Ingebrigtsen, Torrey Westrom and Mary Franson. Issues involving domestic violence as it pertains to joint custody and restraining orders were discussed. "Personal experiences of domestic violence, child abuse and stalking were shared by members of our group. These crimes of abuse have a devastating impact upon the lives of individuals," said Susan Keehn. The rally sought to raise awareness of the destructiveness of domestic and sexual violence on Minnesota communities. "One in every 5 women in Minnesota has been raped. While it costs the State eight billion dollars annually to respond to sexual violence, Minnesota spends zero dollars on sexual violence prevention. The FBI has identified the Twin Cities as one of the "hotspots" for the sex trafficking of children and the average age when a Minnesota girl is first prostituted is age 13. More than 1 in 3 women have experienced rape, physical violence or stalking by their intimate partner. These are sobering statistics that make it clear that our work is not done. Now is the time to make our voices heard. Minnesota cannot afford to compromise on public safety or health," said Deer. The event also included a focus on youth and their role in ending violence against women in Minnesota. Speaker Pheng Thao said, "As we come together to do the hard work of ending violence against women, it is imperative that we examine the social environment in which so many boys are growing into men who abuse women." The rally closed with youth gathering at the podium to be recognized for their work in communities to end violence against women. The youth were wearing "Girls are not for Sale" t-shirts which is part of the Women's Foundation of Minnesota's five-year campaign to end the sex trafficking of girls in Minnesota. "These youth are an inspiration. They are the future. They want to be the future that is free of violence against women and children," said Deer. Speakers recognized legislators who attended the rally and expressed their support. "Today, we ask our policy makers here at the Capitol, to stand with us, to support us, to work with us and to not compromise on public safety and health," said Deer. Action Day is an annual event held every March in Minnesota. Please contact Someplace Safe if you are interested in attending next year's rally or would like more information about Action Day or Someplace Safe's services.
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