PUBLISHED: 5:46 PM on Wednesday, April 26, 2006
AWARE holds Take Back the Night
Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies and the Juneau community will stand up and speak out declaring safety and respect for women worldwide Thursday, April 27, with Take Back the Night.

This is an international event organized on a grassroots level in recognition of the need to promote safety for women.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month, observed in April, is a month dedicated to making a concerted effort to raise awareness of sexual violence and promote its prevention.

Take Back the Night rallies began in England as a protest to the fear and violence women encountered walking the streets at night, a response to a series of sexual assaults and murders. The rallies and marches have been held in the United States since the late 1970s.

In Alaska, where sexual violence is two and half times the national average and 22 out of the last 29 years has been ranked as the state with the most sexual assaults in the country, it is especially important to begin discussing prevention.

Prevention begins by challenging the thinking errors that normalize this type of violence in the home, on college campuses, and within our communities.

Prevention means holding perpetrators of these crimes accountable for what they do through the criminal justice system.

Most perpetrators of sexual crimes re-offend numerous times. Prevention also means not allowing these perpetrators to re-offend through use of coercion, manipulation, or force, which is why the recent passage by our legislature of SB 218 requiring polygraphs and increasing penalties for sex offenders is a significant step forward for our state.

Juneau community members will unite to "Take Back the Night" with a kick-off at 5 p.m. at the Capitol steps with a public address by Kate Burkhart, Alaska Legal Services supervising attorney. Marchers will proceed to Centennial Hall for the rally, which is set to begin at 6 p.m.

The rally will feature keynote speakers, First Lady Nancy Murkowski, Sen. Con Bunde, Rep. Mary Kapsner from Bethel, Deputy Mayor Randy Wanamaker, Chief of Police Greg Browning and women's advocate, Gail Perez.

During the rally, Governor Frank Murkowski will sign Senate Bill 218 into law.

The rally will conclude with a speak-out, a time for survivors to tell their stories of healing and survival of sexual violence.

A performance will be held by the Xaada Git A Lang dancers and light snacks will be provided.