CARBONDALE – Two Statehouse champions for women’s rights toured the Women’s Center in Carbondale today to thank advocates for their work in passing a strip club surcharge bill this year, and to learn about other resources needed to prevent and respond to domestic and sexual violence.
Lt. Governor Sheila Simon and state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights, supported legislation creating the state’s new Sexual Assault Services and Prevention Fund effective Jan. 1, 2013. The fund will be supported through fees generated at strip clubs that permit alcohol sales or consumption. The fund was designed to help offset state funding cuts to sexual assault prevention and response services at agencies such as the Women’s Center, which also provides domestic violence and other advocacy services to Franklin, Jackson, Johnson, Perry, Saline, Union and Williamson counties.
“Services like those provided here at the Women’s Center are vitally important to helping victims of assault and domestic violence begin the healing process,” said Simon. “I thank Sen. Hutchinson for her work to help make sure these programs receive the funding they need, and I look forward to working together to put an end to violence against women.”
The Live Adult Entertainment Facility Surcharge could generate up to $1 million per year, roughly one-sixth of the state’s average spending on sexual assault prevention and response. Club operators will be required to either pay a flat surcharge of $5,000 to $25,000 based on their taxable receipts, or $3 per patron.
“The most dangerous time for a woman suffering abuse is when she decides to leave,” said Sen. Hutchinson, the legislation’s chief sponsor. “The courage these survivors exhibit moves me to my core, and I will continue to fight for them in Springfield.”
According to Illinois State Police Uniform Crime Reports, about 15 rapes occur each day, but experts agree that only one-third of all rapes are reported. According to the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA), in fiscal year 2012, more than 18,000 survivors of sexual assault or sexual abuse, as well as their significant others and anonymous contacts were served by ICASA’s hotlines.