The ‘Special Interests’ of Rape Victims
By Sady Doyle, In These Times
Alas, poor Nikki Haley. All South Carolina’s Republican governor wanted to do was protect the health budget against “special interests” that “distract from… protecting South Carolina’s public health.” And she chose such nasty, selfish special interests to oppose! Hemophiliacs, for example, or people with sickle cell anemia. Those folks sound pretty “special.” And, then, of course, there was the bit that stuck: The rape victims.
Haley’s veto, forbidding $450,000 for the state’s rape crisis centers was overturned on Tuesday, by a vote of 111-0. Which is not surprising, considering the public’s furor. Aside from protests by advocates and survivors within the state, there was a barrage of feminist blog coverage. One crisis center published a letter from a survivor: “I did NOT choose to be raped that night. I was ASLEEP in MY HOME, yet you are cutting a budget for people that did NOTHING WRONG!!!!!”
Well. None of that looks oh so very good, for a politician who, last week, was a favorite to be nominated as Mitt Romney’s VP.
Nor should it, of course. As lots of people have pointed out, demand for crisis centers, and for domestic violence aid, has risen during the recession. And South Carolina’s rate of sexual assault is well above the national average. Haley claimed the services are for “only a small portion of South Carolina’s chronically ill or abused.” But in practice, that number amounts to more than 5,000 survivors in one year, over 25% of whom were children. The cut would have eliminated the only rape crisis center in the city of Charleston.