A new report claims sexual violence, in just one year, cost the state of Iowa $5.8 billion or $1,875 per resident. The research was financed by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center.
Binnie LeHew, with the IDPH, talked about the report Thursday at a news conference in Des Moines. “The conclusion we have is that sexual violence is a costly and serious public health problem in Iowa and it has profound short and long term impacts on its victims,” LeHew said.
“Because of this, we feel strongly that we have to invest in prevention.” The report shows, in 2009, more than 55,000 people experienced sexual violence in Iowa.
LeHew said around 55% of the government’s expenditures associated with sexual violence were tied to the criminal justice system, while just one-percent was directed at prevention efforts. “Not that we don’t need to have resources in the criminal justice system, but we cannot continue to put all of our eggs in that basket,” LeHew said.
“We have to invest in prevention and recognize, because so little of sexual violence is ever reported, we have to reach out to people in many other ways – which is what a comprehensive prevention program would do.”
The report noted this year 1 in 35 women in Iowa between the ages of 18 and 44 will experience sexual violence.