South Carolina’s Republican Governor Nikki Haley — who is buds with Mitt Romney! — vetoed $453,680 last week for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention through the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence And Assault. According to the Charleston City Paper, Haley’s explanation was that the funds would “distract” the Department of Health and Environmental Control, presumably from more important issues. (Because apparently the effects of physical and/or sexual violence are not health issues?) Haley wrote:
“Each of these lines attempts to serve a portion of our population for which we extend our sympathy and encouragement, but nevertheless, it is only a small portion of South Carolina’s chronically ill or abused. Overall, these special add-on lines distract from the agency’s broader mission of protecting South Carolina’s public health.”
Mind you, Gov. Haley is the same women who told the ladies of “The View,” while speaking about her opposition to health care reform, that “Women don’t care about contraception.” Yeah, she said that. We don’t care about being raped or beaten either, Governor!
The economy is in the shitter. Other stuff got cut, too. Teachers’ salaries took a hit; $500,000 for “marketing and branding at the Department of Agriculture” may have to wait. I get it. But this is real people’s lives that are being affected right now. And reventative services prevent bad, costly stuff from coming down the road later.
According to a statement from the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence And Assault, the vetoed funding is 37 percent of the budget for rape crisis centers in the state. In 2011, 15 sexual assault programs provided services — a 24-hour hotline, accompaniment to a hospital for a rape kit, counseling — to over 5,000 individuals. Prevention services included education for 50,000 youngsters from elementary school to college. As SCCADVASA puts it:
This education helps prevent sexual violence in South Carolina, before it occurs. This is not only life-saving work, it is also cost-saving work. A recent study conducted in the Lowcountry found that child sexual abuse cost taxpayers $2.7 million per year, in one judicial district alone. Should we not spend $453,000 to prevent these crimes, rather than many times more on treating the devastating effects?
The crappy thing is, funding cuts don’t just affect programs. They also affect the value that South Carolina as a society puts on abused people, that “small portion,” as Gov. Haley puts it, who supposedly need our “sympathy and encouragement.” It sends the message, We don’t care what happens to you. As Samhita Mukhopadyay, wrote on Feministing:
Cutting funding for important preventative and crisis programs denies the existence of survivors, it shrinks the possibility of getting help and drives home the point that you probably don’t need or deserve help if you have been sexually assaulted or are in a violent relationship — or if you are at risk.
Think Progress pointed out that South Carolina ranks seventh in the country for the number of women killed by men and its sexual violence rate has been higher than the national average since 1982. Clearly violence against women in the state is a problem.
And with dismissive attitudes like those from Gov. Haley, it’s not entirely hard to see why.