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Governor Parnell Targets Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault Epidemic

October 22, 2009, Anchorage, Alaska - With a focus on ending the scourge of domestic violence and sexual assault, Governor Sean Parnell today called for a unified prevention and enforcement effort.

"We can stop the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault by shedding silence and passivity," Governor Parnell said. "We can speak up and proclaim these acts to be unacceptable. Together, we can begin the change towards greater respect for one another."

In a speech to the Alaska Federation of Natives convention, the governor committed to changing the statewide culture of silence about the issues through education and raised awareness.

"We'll use the broadcast media to spread the message in Alaska that domestic violence and sexual assault are unacceptable," Governor Parnell said. "We'll teach our children respect and awareness of these evils."

Governor Parnell also called for a substantial increase in law enforcement presence over the next 10 years to ease fear, restore hope and incarcerate offenders. The Department of Public Safety is working to fill every Village Public Safety Officer position. Of the 71 funded positions, only 58 are filled. Two trooper positions have been added in Bethel, one in Dillingham and two in Nome.

The governor pledged to work toward a goal of providing state trooper or Village Public Safety Officer presence in every community that requests it.

"With your help, we'll develop youth leaders involved in primary prevention strategies, and we'll offer help to those who want out," Governor Parnell said. "We'll partner with you to create culturally relevant education programs, and we'll help raise funds to benefit survivors and publicize efforts. We will support and empower community leaders who speak out against sexual abuse and domestic violence in their communities."

At the convention, Governor Parnell awarded the Shirley Demientieff Award to Lu Young, the late wife of Congressman Don Young. The award is given for advocacy on behalf of Alaska Native women and children.

Audio from the governor's speech to the Alaska Federation of Natives convention is available at: http://www.gov.state.ak.us/audio/GovParnell-AFNaudio-Oct22-2009.mp3.

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