B.C. failing on women’s issues: report
Advocacy group gives province low grades in justice, housing and safety for women and kids READ THE FULL STORY AT THESTAR.COM/VANCOUVER
The province has received near-failing grades on several aspects of women’s rights, according to a new report card from women’s legal non-profit West Coast LEAF.
The 10th annual report card evaluated how the province fared in the past year on meeting safety and security standards set out in the UN’S Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. While the province made improvements on child care and health, it received D minuses in the areas of gendered violence and the rights of women in prison and C-level grades on access to justice, housing and child protections. Alana Prochuk, left, manager of public legal education at West Coast LEAFAND Raji Mangat, director of litigation, have released a report card on women’s rights in B.C.
The report found the rate of sexual assaults reported to police increased 16 per cent from 2016-2017. Incidents of criminal harassment or cyberbullying were gendered, with the majority of acts being perpetrated against women.
Alana Prochuk, West Coast LEAF’S manager of public legal
education and author of the report, said that the small amounts of new funding for anti-violence services did not meet the need.
“When it comes to genderbased violence there have been some funding announcements, but they’re extremely small and fall short of the need for sustainable, culturally appropriate anti-violence and healing programs,” she said in an interview.
Prochuk also said it was alarming to see that rates of incarceration for Indigenous women and girls were increasing in B.C.
Access to justice was another poorly graded area, one that Prochuk said had broader impacts on the safety and security of women. Legal aid is limited in B.C., and the Legal Services Society (LSS) stated earlier this year that over half of their applicants for legal aid are refused. The majority of their applicants are women.
“Women fleeing violence are able to access a certain amount of legal aid, and when they run out of hours before resolving everything in their case, that can place them in danger from an abusive ex-partner that might be unhappy with the legal action they have achieved,” said Prochuk. “Then it may be harder to get the additional legal help they so urgently need.”