Initial Reaction to the Joint Declaration and Framework for Action on Gender-Based Violence

Initial Reaction to the Joint Declaration and Framework for Action on Gender-Based Violence
Today, the federal, provincial, and territorial governments recognized the importance of the issues of gender-based violence (GBV) and violence against women (VAW).

We appreciate that some of the recommendations from the GBV sector have been taken into consideration in this joint declaration and framework for action.

However, this document itself is not a National Action Plan (NAP).

Roadmap for the National Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Gender-based Violence

A NAP, as presented in June 2021 through our ready roadmap – would include concise actions that each province and territory commits to rather than a menu of opportunities for action.

Questions remain about how the federal government intends to steer this in a way that is transparent, allows continuity across provinces and territories, addresses systemic barriers and root causes, is measurable and accountable, and does not result in massive gaps depending on a jurisdiction’s political priorities

It is also unclear how the GBV sector will be involved in providing oversight on the national plan, to ensure that a person’s access to services does not remain dependent on their postal code.

We will be releasing a deeper analysis of this document early next week.

Signed,

Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
BWSS – Battered Women’s Support Services
Canadian Labour Congress
Canadian Women’s Foundation
Luke’s Place
Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan
South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario
Women’s Shelters Canada

These seven organization co-led the 2021 roadmap project with Women’s Shelters Canada.

Resource Card for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

NEW Safety Resource Card for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we have updated our Safety Resource Card – a comprehensive, easy to understand guide to finding help for women, transfeminine and women with trans experience who are concerned about intimate partner, domestic or sexualized violence.

Since its initial launch in March 2006, tens of thousands of copies of The Safety Resource Card have been shared throughout Metro Vancouver.

This Safety Resource Card contains dozens of useful phone numbers and folds up to the size of a business card so that women using the card may do so discreetly and without fear of it being discovered by an abusive partner.

To obtain your free card please call 778-558-7179 or email communityengagement@bwss.org.

If you’d like to print your own, you can download it here >

NEW Safety Resource Card for Domestic Violence Awareness Month
NEW Safety Resource Card for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

BWSS Legal Services and Advocacy team is growing

BWSS Legal Services and Advocacy team is growing

BWSS Legal Services and Advocacy team is growing

Established in 1979, BWSS – Battered Women’s Support Services takes action to end gender-based violence through community-based interventions, support services, legal and systemic advocacy, education and training, violence prevention and research and policy.

BWSS Legal Services and Advocacy Program is a community legal program providing legal services and advocacy for self-identifying women survivors of gender-based violence.

For 43 years, BWSS – Battered Women’s Support Services has provided a community based legal advocacy program in Metro Vancouver providing legal supports for women and femmes who have experienced intimate partner, domestic and sexualized violence helping survivors navigate the Canadian legal system. Our supervised staff, interns and volunteer lawyers provide legal information, accompaniment to court and legal appointments, we appeal when legal aid has been denied and we aid with documents and affidavits preparation.

Our legal advocacy includes family, child protection, criminal and immigration law.

It cannot be underscored enough how important access to justice and our Legal Services and Advocacy Program are for women’s long-term safety and freedom from violence. Through accessing our Legal Services and Advocacy Program women can leave their abusive relationship, receive more fair custody and access orders increasing the safety for the children, able to have a voice in mediation proceedings and very importantly having access to legal representation in their legal cases.

The following positions are currently available:  

closed
Specialized Indigenous Legal Advocate

Organizational Overview

Established in 1979, BWSS – Battered Women’s Support Services takes action to end gender-based violence through community-based interventions, support services, legal and systemic advocacy, education and training, violence prevention and research and policy. 

BWSS Legal Services and Advocacy Program is a community legal program providing legal services and advocacy for self-identifying women survivors of gender-based violence.

 

Job Highlight

As the Specialized Indigenous Legal Advocate, you will provide legal advocacy and legal solutions for Indigenous women and extended families experiencing gender-based violence increasing the safety for their children, able to have a voice in legal proceedings and very importantly having access to legal solutions in their legal cases. Legal advocacy is grounded in a decolonizing and intersectional feminist analysis of gender-based violence and violence against women.

 

Job Summary

Through your work as Specialized Indigenous Legal Advocate, you will provide information, support and advocacy to Indigenous women and extended families dealing with child welfare at the intersection of gender-based violence and the Canadian legal system recognizing that legal issues routinely extend into other areas of the law including criminal, and family law.

 

Key Responsibilities

  • Providing legal information, summary of case law, legal research, and general assistance to Indigenous women and extended family in building strategies for their legal case
  • Interviewing women and femmes, assess/analyze legal problems, assist in resolving legal problems, assist women and femmes prepare for court, preparing documents in consultation with the Legal Services and Advocacy team and the legal supervisor
  • Working closely with direct service, legal advocacy, counselling, and volunteer teams to maintain a matrix of support options for survivors accessing BWSS
  • Co-ordinating legal advocacy clinics and group sessions for survivors of violence
  • Delivering workshops and presentations to community groups
  • Providing public legal education, training and print materials for survivors and community advocates and on child protection, criminal, and family law issues
  • Providing consultation and support to BWSS volunteers related to legal advocacy issues
  • Providing consultation and support to BWSS staff related to legal advocacy issues
  • Maintaining an excellent working knowledge of emergent legal-social issues related to violence against women and femmes and to seek solutions
  • Assisting with the administration of all record keeping and service delivery obligations of funding contract, in keeping with legal and contractual obligations undertaken by the Society. Such administrative duties will include preparing refunding proposal and regular program activity reports as required by BWSS and the funder

 

Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s Degree in the law, or certificate or diploma in appropriate area such as Paralegal Program or equivalent experience
  • Minimum 4 years’ experience working with legal advocacy issues related to women who experience violence in relationships preferably within child protection, criminal and/or family law
  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience working with Indigenous communities
  • Solid understanding of the dynamics of violence against women, the intersectionality of oppressions within a feminist framework
  • Demonstrated legal research, analysis, writing and advocacy skills
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively with frontline service providers and with members of community and social justice groups
  • Working within a harm reduction context, along with the ability to apply this understanding to your day-to-day work, helps guide you in your interactions with our funders and partners, your co-workers, and the women we support
  • Demonstrated strong understanding of equity, intersectionality, anti-racism, decolonization, and anti-oppression
  • Demonstrated analysis, knowledge, and training in working with trauma survivors
  • Demonstrated cultural competency including awareness of diverse marginalized communities in Metro Vancouver and ability to work with women from various cultural communities
  • Satisfactory criminal record checks

 

The Successful Candidate Will …

  • Have a strong dedication to supporting survivors
  • Prioritize the mission of the organization
  • Be comfortable working in a fast-paced, high-intensity work environment
  • Strive to create trusting, respectful, and supportive relationships with the BWSS staff, volunteers, and leadership team
  • Be comfortable working effectively both independently and in a team environment, and to demonstrate a high degree of initiative
  • Have experience in women’s organizations and non-profit society environments

 

Classification

  • Preferential and limited hiring assist BWSS to achieve diverse an equitable representation in the workplace, and to recruit employees whose identities enrich the ways in which we accomplish our mission and serve the community; as a result, preference will be given to Indigenous women, Black women, racialized women, women who are disabled, femmes, transfeminine, and women from other equity seeking groups.
  • Ability to speak another language an asset

 

Please send a cover letter and resume in (PDF format only) detailing how you meet or exceed these qualifications to Battered Women’s Support Services endingviolence@bwss.org Please include Specialized Indigenous Legal Advocate in the subject line

This posting will remain open until filled.

No phone calls or messages through social media, including LinkedIn, please.

Download a pdf of this job posting here.

 

 

Specialized Legal Advocate

Organizational Overview

Established in 1979, BWSS – Battered Women’s Support Services takes action to end gender-based violence through community-based interventions, support services, legal and systemic advocacy, education and training, violence prevention and research and policy.

BWSS Legal Services and Advocacy Program is a community legal program providing legal services and advocacy for self-identifying women survivors of gender-based violence.

 

Job Highlight

As the Specialized Legal Advocate, you will provide legal advocacy and legal solutions for Black and Racialized women and extended families experiencing gender-based violence increasing the safety for their children, able to have a voice in legal proceedings and very importantly having access to legal solutions in their legal cases. Legal advocacy is grounded in a decolonizing and intersectional feminist analysis of gender-based violence and violence against women.

 

Job Summary

Through your work as Specialized Legal Advocate, you will provide information, support and advocacy for Black and Racialized women dealing with immigration status at the intersection of gender-based violence and the Canadian legal system recognizing that legal issues routinely extend into other areas of the law including child protection, criminal, and family law.

 

Key Responsibilities

  • Providing legal information, summary of case law, legal research, and general assistance to Indigenous women and extended family in building strategies for their legal case
  • Interviewing women and femmes, assess/analyze legal problems, assist in resolving legal problems, assist women and femmes prepare for court, preparing documents in consultation with the Legal Services and Advocacy team and the legal supervisor
  • Working closely with direct service, legal advocacy, counselling, and volunteer teams to maintain a matrix of support options for survivors accessing BWSS
  • Co-ordinating legal advocacy clinics and group sessions for survivors of violence
  • Delivering workshops and presentations to community groups
  • Providing public legal education, training and print materials for survivors and community advocates and on immigration, child protection, criminal, and family law issues
  • Providing consultation and support to BWSS volunteers related to legal advocacy issues
  • Providing consultation and support to BWSS staff related to legal advocacy issues
  • Maintaining an excellent working knowledge of emergent legal-social issues related to violence against women and femmes and to seek solutions
  • Assisting with the administration of all record keeping and service delivery obligations of funding contract, in keeping with legal and contractual obligations undertaken by the Society. Such administrative duties will include preparing refunding proposal and regular program activity reports as required by BWSS and the funder

 

Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s Degree in the law, or certificate or diploma in appropriate area such as Paralegal Program or equivalent experience
  • Minimum 4 years’ experience working with legal advocacy issues related to women who experience violence in relationships preferably within child protection, criminal and/or family law
  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience working with Black and racialized communities
  • Solid understanding of the dynamics of violence against women, the intersectionality of oppressions within a feminist framework
  • Demonstrated legal research, analysis, writing and advocacy skills
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively with frontline service providers and with members of community and social justice groups
  • Working within a harm reduction context, along with the ability to apply this understanding to your day-to-day work, helps guide you in your interactions with our funders and partners, your co-workers, and the women we support
  • Demonstrated strong understanding of equity, intersectionality, anti-racism, decolonization, and anti-oppression
  • Demonstrated analysis, knowledge, and training in working with trauma survivors
  • Demonstrated cultural competency including awareness of diverse marginalized communities in Metro Vancouver and ability to work with women from various cultural communities
  • Satisfactory criminal record checks

 

The Successful Candidate Will …

  • Have a strong dedication to supporting survivors
  • Prioritize the mission of the organization
  • Be comfortable working in a fast-paced, high-intensity work environment
  • Strive to create trusting, respectful, and supportive relationships with the BWSS staff, volunteers, and leadership team
  • Be comfortable working effectively both independently and in a team environment, and to demonstrate a high degree of initiative
  • Have experience in women’s organizations and non-profit society environments

 

Classification

  • Preferential and limited hiring assist BWSS to achieve diverse an equitable representation in the workplace, and to recruit employees whose identities enrich the ways in which we accomplish our mission and serve the community; as a result, preference will be given to Indigenous women, Black women, racialized women, women who are disabled, femmes, transfeminine, and women from other equity seeking groups.
  • Ability to speak another language an asset

 

Please send a cover letter and resume in (PDF format only) detailing how you meet or exceed these qualifications to Battered Women’s Support Services endingviolence@bwss.org Please include Specialized Legal Advocate in the subject line.

This posting will remain open until filled.

No phone calls or messages through social media, including LinkedIn, please.

Download a pdf of this job posting here.

 

 

Canada Must Ratify the Belém do Pará Convention

Canada Must Ratify the Belém do Pará Convention

The federal government is current seeking input from organizations on the issue of whether Canada should move forward with accession to the Belém do Pará Convention. Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) was contacted by the federal government this month to consult with us on this important issue of international law.

 

Battered Women’s Support Services is generally in strong support of Canada joining the Belém do Pará Convention.

 

The Belém do Pará Convention is formally known as the to the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women.

This regional treaty was adopted at the 24th regular session of the Organization of American States (OAS)’s General Assembly on June 4, 1994, in Belém do Pará, Brazil, and came into force on March 5, 1995.

To date, Canada has not joined the treaty. At the 2018 Summit of the Americas, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that Canada would begin the review process to join the Belém do Pará Convention.

 

The Belém do Pará Convention is one of the very few binding international instruments that deals with the issue of gender-based violence and violence against women, and offers more extensive strategies, remedies, and enforcement mechanisms than other international instruments.

 

The Belém do Pará Convention aims to eliminate sexual, physical, and psychological violence against women in both the public and private spheres of society.

Article 2 of the Convention lays out that violence against women shall be understood to include physical, sexual, and psychological violence:

  1. that occurs within the family or domestic unit or within any other interpersonal relationship, whether or not the perpetrator shares or has shared the same residence with the woman, including, among others, rape, battery and sexual abuse;
  2. that occurs in the community and is perpetrated by any person, including, among others, rape, sexual abuse, torture, trafficking in persons, forced prostitution, kidnapping and sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as in educational institutions, health facilities or any other place; and
  3. that is perpetrated or condoned by the state or its agents regardless of where it occurs.

 

As a proactive instrument, the Belém do Pará Convention also sets out the duties and obligations of state parties to the Convention to pursue policies to prevent, punish, and eliminate violence against women.

Chapter 3 of the Conventions lays out the duties of states to ensure the exercise and protection of every woman’s human, civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights and freedoms.

Article 7 of the Convention, for example, lays out that State Parties to Convention must take all appropriate means, without delay, to:

  1. refrain from engaging in any act or practice of violence against women and to ensure that their authorities, officials, personnel, agents, and institutions act in conformity with this obligation;
  2. apply due diligence to prevent, investigate and impose penalties for violence against women;
  3. include in their domestic legislation penal, civil, administrative and any other type of provisions that may be needed to prevent, punish and eradicate violence against women and to adopt appropriate administrative measures where necessary;
  4. adopt legal measures to require the perpetrator to refrain from harassing, intimidating or threatening the woman or using any method that harms or endangers her life or integrity, or damages her property;
  5. take all appropriate measures, including legislative measures, to amend or repeal existing laws and regulations or to modify legal or customary practices which sustain the persistence and tolerance of violence against women;
  6. establish fair and effective legal procedures for women who have been subjected to violence which include, among others, protective measures, a timely hearing and effective access to such procedures;
  7. establish the necessary legal and administrative mechanisms to ensure that women subjected to violence have effective access to restitution, reparations or other just and effective remedies; and
  8. adopt such legislative or other measures as may be necessary to give effect to this Convention.

 

Article 8 further states that States Parties agree to undertake progressively specific measures, including anti-violence education programs and specialized services for women who have been subjected to violence, including shelters and counseling services for all affected family members.

 

Of particular interest to us at BWSS is that the Belém do Pará Convention provides a robust mechanism to lodge complaints of violations of Article 7 of this Convention by state parties such as Canada.

Complaints can be lodged by any person or groups of persons or a nongovernmental organization like ours. This is especially crucial given the abject failure of state parties, such as Canada, to meaningfully eliminate gendered violence.

The level of violence that women, girls, and gender-diverse people experience in Canada has barely changed over the past two decades, and is especially magnified for those further marginalized by race, citizenship, class, sexual orientation, and disability.

 

For Indigenous women, girls, trans, and two spirit people in Canada, the crisis of gendered colonial violence and the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, trans, and two spirit people continues unabated, with no accountability from any level of government.

Importantly, Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls explicitly calls on Canada to ratify the Belém do Pará Convention:

 

1.2       We call upon all governments, with the full participation of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, to immediately implement and fully comply with all relevant rights instruments, including but not limited to:

  1. ICCPR, ICESCR, UNCRC, CEDAW, and ICERD, as well as all optional protocols to these instruments, including the 3rd Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
  2. American Convention on Human Rights: specifically, that Canada ratify the American Convention on Human Rights and the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women.

 

We are heartened with the high rate of ratification of Belém do Pará Convention across the region; 32 of the 35 OAS member states have already ratified the Convention. However, we remain disheartened that Canada still has not.

Given the stated commitments of the federal, provincial, and territorial officials to work to combat and eliminate gender-based violence, for example through the National Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Girls, we strongly urge Canada to accede to the Belém do Pará Convention.

A Conversation Every Doctor Should be Prepared For

Violence against girls and women is often not included in discussions of women’s health; it is considered a social issue, not a medical issue.

1 in 5 women make their first disclosure of violence in an intimate relationship to their general practitioner.

So how do doctors ask their patient if she is experiencing violence from a partner? Especially since doctors are not trained to support women who experience violence in an intimate relationship. All doctors should receive training to recognize and respond to domestic violence.

One study of nearly 5,000 women, only 7 percent said a health professional had ever asked them about domestic or family violence. When surveyed, doctors often respond that they don’t ask such questions around intimate partner violence because of a lack of time, training and information on services that are available to help.

In April 2018, BWSS launched a campaign and resource kit designed to inform family physicians on how to respond to women be experiencing violence in their intimate relationships.

The Launch of the campaign resulted in UBC Medical School requesting training for their Family Practice Residents through annual seminars, beginning in 2019. On October 13, 2022, Angela Marie MacDougall, BWSS’ Executive Director, once again, presented on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and Partner Inflicted Brain Injuries (PIBI), to UBC Medical School family practice residents providing concrete information doctors can take when supporting patients who have experienced IPV and sharing the impacts of PIBI. By bridging the gap and giving general practitioners more information and resources in not only understanding the dynamics and impacts of IPV, but also how to have that conversation with their patients to ensure they receive the appropriate medical attention and personal supports.

Women who are abused often suffer injury to their head, neck, and face.

The high potential for women who are abused to have Partner Inflicted Brain Injuries that are mild to severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a growing concern. The effects can cause irreversible psychological and physical harm. Strangulation can also cause TBI, because it prevents blood and oxygen from entering the brain leading to hypoxic injury, and sometimes anoxic injury.

One study found that 30% of battered women reported a loss of consciousness at least once and 67% reported residual problems that were potentially head-injury related.

When it comes to research around TBI the significant focus has been on male athletes and military personnel. Unfortunately, what is likely the largest group of repetitive TBI sufferers, namely women who experience intimate partner violence, has received scant attention.

Abusers who strangle are particularly dangerous. Strangulation is often a last escalation of terrible violence that precedes homicides . Victims who have been strangled are 7 times more likely to be killed by their partner. Strangulation is terrifying and traumatic. Over 70% of strangulation survivors believed they were going to die.

Many women are unaware they have experienced a traumatic brain injury because of the difficulty in diagnosing it since its symptoms often overlap with the impacts of intimate partner violence such as depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, etc.

Venn diagram showing the extreme overlap that exists among symptoms of IPV and TBIs via Concussion Alliance

It is so important that health care providers are aware of IPV and the link to TBIs, it could mean the difference between life or death for someone who is experiencing IPV.

Book training, workshops, or presentations for your organization here.