In a habitat of wild, uncontrolled nature, the people really ‘don’t fear the law’. If you’re a woman living in Alaska or northern Canada, you better be armed up to your teeth because the number of rapes, domestic abuse and sex trafficking is very high.
On a freezing night last February, the body of 13-year-old Mackenzie Howard was found lying in the back porch of the church in the tiny, remote village of Kake, Alaska. She had been battered to death.
In one of the world’s most hazardous natural environments, the real dangers for women living in the Arctic come not from polar bears or cracking ice but from the men they live among.
Mackenzie Howard’s body lay outside the church in Kake for 11 hours after it was found. With a population of 559, Kake is just one of 75 remote Alaskan villages with no police force.
Of the 53 communities in the Arctic Canadian province of Nunavut, only 28 have Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) detachments. 15 of these are staffed by only two people.
In the absence of police, according to a report into Mackenzie’s murder in the Washington Post, Kake residents were forced to set up a rota to guard the body and patrol the village.
Since the only way out of Kake is by plane or boat, the killer was still at large in the community. State troopers arrived the following morning. It took investigators another few hours to make the journey from Anchorage, 1000 miles away.
Speaking to the Washington Post, Teresa Gaudette, chair of Kake’s public safety committee, said, ‘It can be terrifying. When something happens, we have to call 911 to get a state trooper to come.
‘Then, it can take a few hours to a day or two…by the time they get here, sometimes nothing can be done because there’s no evidence. People can just get away with it.’
Mackenzie’s mother, Marla Howard, added: ‘People don’t really fear the law here.’