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FEWO Committee News Release

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Standing Committee on the Status of Women
House of Commons / Chambre des communes
Comité permanent de la condition féminine

For immediate release


NEWS RELEASE


Status of Women Committee tables its report Taking Action to End Violence Against Young Women and Girls in Canada

Ottawa, March 20, 2017 -

The House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women presented its report entitled Taking Action to End Violence Against Young Women and Girls in Canada in the House of Commons today. The report is based on submitted briefs and testimony provided by witnesses over the course of 21 meetings held between 12 April and 7 December 2016 during its study on violence against young women and girls.

The Committee decided to conduct this study because acts of gender-based violence can prevent young women and girls from leading fulfilling lives as equal members in Canadian society. Young women and girls who are victimized experience both immediate and long-term physical and mental health problems, reduced economic and social prosperity, and lasting pain and suffering.

The report focuses on three types of violence that have a significant impact on young women and girls: harassment in public spaces, sexual violence on post-secondary campuses, and cyberviolence.

The report also highlights the following areas for action to address violence against young women and girls:
  • establishing public awareness and educational efforts;
  • engaging men and boys in addressing violence;
  • improving law enforcement and the justice system;
  • increasing data collection, research and knowledge;
  • supporting front-line services and community organizations; and
  • collaborating with the provinces and territories.

The Committee’s report makes 45 recommendations to the Government of Canada that aim to prevent, respond to and eliminate acts of violence against young women and girls. A number of recommendations speak to the Federal Strategy on Gender-based Violence, for example:

Recommendation 1: That the Government of Canada ensure that the Federal Strategy on Gender-based Violence include violence against young women and girls in Canada and that the strategy be survivor-centric, prevention-based, trauma-informed, and tailored to the unique needs of marginalized groups.

The report also provides several recommendations specific to sexual violence on post-secondary campuses in Canada, for example:

Recommendation 8: That the Government of Canada request that the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, at the next meeting of Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial Ministers Responsible for Justice and Public Safety, urge all jurisdictions to discuss mechanisms by which the provinces and territories could require all university and college administrations to establish sexual assault centres on campus, which would offer free and accessible counselling services for students and other members of the university community.

Many recommendations are aimed at tackling the new phenomenon of cyberviolence, whereby social media and information and communications technologies are used for committing an act of violence. Such recommendations include:

Recommendation 14: That the Government of Canada, through the Department of Justice, examine the legal definition and threshold for criminal harassment in Section 264 of the Criminal Code in order to explicitly include cyberviolence and harassment that occurs in online spaces, without violating the right to free expression as defined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and

Recommendation 18: That the Government of Canada introduce legislation to restore Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act which permitted rights complaints to the federal Canadian Human Rights Commission for the communication of hate messages by telephone or on the Internet.

The report highlights the need for changes in law enforcement and the justice system in order to improve responses to acts of gender-based violence. Relevant recommendations include the following:

Recommendation 28: That the Government of Canada, through the Department of Justice, and in collaboration with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, implement a mandatory educational curriculum on gender-based violence and sexual violence for all Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and other federally-regulated law enforcement officers, that is survivor-centric, respectful and trauma-informed;

Recommendation 29: That the Government of Canada provide funding to the National Judicial Institute for the express purpose of developing comprehensive training on gender-based violence and sexual assault for the judiciary and those seeking to become part of the judiciary, and that the Government of Canada encourage all judges to participate in this training; and

Recommendation 31: That the Government of Canada, through the Department of Justice, in collaboration with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, establish sexual assault advocates within law enforcement and legal bodies, and that the role of the advocate be to: ensure that the complainant is cognisant of the full range of existing laws, services and options available to survivors of sexual assault as they move through the legal system, including options outside of the existing criminal justice system; and to ensure that there is a trauma-informed and survivor-centric approach throughout the legal process.

The report can be consulted on the Committee’s webpage on the Parliament of Canada website.

The Standing Committee on the Status of Women is composed of 10 Members of Parliament. It is chaired by Marilyn Gladu (Sarnia – Lambton) and its vice-chairs are Pam Damoff (Oakville North – Burlington) and Sheila Malcolmson (Nanaimo – Ladysmith). The other Committee members are: Sean Fraser (Central Nova), Rachael Harder (Lethbridge), Karen Ludwig (New Brunswick Southwest), Eva Nassif (Vimy), Marc Serré (Nickel Belt), Anita Vandenbeld (Ottawa West – Nepean), Karen Vecchio (Elgin – Middlesex – London).

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For more information, please contact:
Marie-Hélène Sauvé, Clerk of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women
Tel: 613-995-6119
E-mail: FEWO@parl.gc.ca