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After months of intensive budget advocacy and tremendous support from the governor and members of the Legislature, the final state budget for FY04 was released—and it eliminates 75 percent of public funding for rape crisis centers and sexual assault services in Massachusetts.
Sexual assault poses a serious threat to public health and public safety. It is prevalent, has a devastating impact on victims and affects everyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin or religion. Because of this, the impact of these cuts will be devastating—forcing up to 13 of the 18 rape crisis centers to close within the coming months. In addition, the only statewide, 24/7 hotline for Spanish speaking victims of sexual assault also lost its state funding, and domestic violence and sexual assault intervention services for immigrants and refugees have also been slashed.
While the state coalition in Massachusetts, Jane Doe Inc., has already started investigating options to restore this crucial public funding, that process is likely to take several months. As Catherine M. Greene, Interim Executive Director of Jane Doe Inc. stated, "We believe that rape crisis centers provide core services that should be funded by state government. However, we do not want survivors to suffer without needed services until such time as these public funds are again available."
Jane Doe Inc. recently launched a fundraising campaign in conjunction with the sexual assault and rape crisis centers in the Coalition to help Save Massachusetts’ Rape Crisis Centers. The campaign to Save Massachusetts’ Rape Crisis Centers aims to raise $150,000 within the next few weeks and an additional $650,000 by December 30, 2003.
100 percent of all donations to the campaign to Save Massachusetts’ Rape Crisis Centers will be distributed to the rape crisis centers.
As a society, we have an interest in ensuring that rape crisis centers continue to provide sexual assault intervention, prevention and education services. Please help us make sure that survivors of sexual assault are not abandoned.