Women’s advocates lobby for funds

Several women’s support programs are facing deficits.

Anna Weggel

Hundreds of women’s advocates and supporters gathered at the State Capitol on Wednesday to lobby for sexual assault and domestic violence programs funding.

During the last three years, the Legislature has cut more than $5 million in funding for programs supporting victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, childhood abuse and general crime.

“We don’t need words; we need action,” Sen. Jane Ranum, DFL-Minneapolis said. “Real leadership requires real dollars.”

The Houston County Women’s Resources, a battered women and children program in Hokah, Minn., faces a 25 percent budget cut next year, executive director Linda Riddle said.

“It takes courage (for the victims) to heal and to feel again. That takes services, and services take dollars,” Riddle said. “We must restore funding now.”

The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, which sponsored the event, and their supporters encourage people to contact legislators and the governor to restore the deficit.

The coalition is a statewide membership organization that advocates on behalf of battered women and their children.

“Find your legislator; talk to other people,” Ranum said.

Rep. Steve Strachan, R-Farmington, a police officer who spoke at the rally, said he has dealt with abuse victims many times.

“I see up close the effects of abuse. I see the blood,” Strachan said. “And as a legislator, I pledge to you to make sure we do not forget the effects of this abuse.”

The coalition supplied information at the rally on local battered women’s programs, ways people can help end domestic violence in their communities, what people can do if they are being abused and guides for friends and families of victims.

University seniors Maren Meade and Michelle Werth attended the rally and said they heard about it in their gender violence class.

“We learn about this stuff all the time,” Werth said. “We wanted to see how many women are really involved.”

Riddle stressed the importance of standing up for victims.

“We all have a responsibility and a role to play in the lives of these battered women and children,” Riddle said.

The Minnesota Coalition of Battered Women encourages abused women to contact the coalition at (651) 646-0994 for help.