Alaska ranked highest in 2020 for women murdered by men

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 9:34 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Wednesday kicked off the start of the 17th Annual Government-to-Government Tribal Consultation on Violence Against Women.

Officials said the day was filled with speakers discussing what steps are needed towards action. This was the first conference held since 2019 and featured record-breaking attendance, with 600 people represented by 60 tribal leaders.

“We’re on the ground,” Allison Randall said. “We’re sitting with council members. We’re sitting with advocates, we’re sitting with village public safety officers who are talking about what’s it really like.”

Randall, the acting director of the Office on Violence Against Women at the U.S. Department of Justice, said discussions are revolving around the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous persons, the high domestic violence and sexual assault rates amongst Alaska Native women, and the need for consistent law enforcement response.

In a report published by the Violence Policy Center this month, Alaska ranked first among all 50 U.S. states in 2020 in number of females murdered by males in single victim and single offender homicides with a rate of 3.43 deaths per 100,000 females. Of the 12 total women who were murdered by men that year, eight of them were American Indian or Alaska Native.

Randall said her team traveled across Southeastern Alaska earlier this week in order to gain a better understanding of what regional barriers people in rural areas of the state face when seeking help, or trying to leave a violent situation.

“It’s so hard for survivors to get safety when you depend on a plane or a boat to get access to safety, when there might be only one shelter, and that’s in Juneau. It can be hard to get access to those resources,” Randall said.

This, Randall said, has been a worry of hers recently as she reflects on the recovery process following the storm formed by the remnants of Typhoon Merbok in the western part of Alaska.

“I’m very concerned for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault,” she said. “We know that natural disasters can exacerbate domestic and sexual violence, and we want to send all of our thoughts and resources there.”