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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. When AWARE (Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies) was founded 25 years ago there was very little public discussion of the extent of violence against women in Alaska or in this country. Shelters like AWARE now exist all over the country and provide a safe haven for abused women and their children, counseling, advocacy, and community education (the phone number is (907) 586-1090; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
The United States has the highest rate of violence against women in the industrialized world. Experts estimate that a woman in this country is battered by a man every 15 seconds, raped every two minutes and murdered by a spouse or boyfriend every six hours. Alaska is number one per capita in sexual assaults among the 50 states, with rates more than double the U.S. average (source: FBI). Alaska ranks sixth per capita in homicides of women by men (source: Violence Policy Center 2001). That gives our beautiful state the dubious distinction of being one of the most dangerous places for women in the industrialized world.
Friday, Oct. 24, is the annual Take Back the Night march organized by AWARE. Marchers will gather on the steps of the Capitol at 5 p.m. and proceed to the Armory. A chili feed will begin at 6 p.m. at the Armory, followed by a dance until 10 p.m.
Take Back the Night marches began in England in the mid-1970s as a protest against the fear women encounter walking the streets at night. The first one in the United States took place in San Francisco in 1978, and they have been held every year since on campuses and communities. The purpose of the march is to unify all people in an awareness of violence against women, children and families.
Everyone in the community is invited and encouraged to show their solidarity with women. Men sometimes are at a loss as to what they can do to help. Men, you can be visible allies of your mothers, your wives, your daughters. We women will appreciate it very much.