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

StarMetro Vancouver - - VANCOUVER - CHERISE SEUCHARAN

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.”

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