Anti-violence Organization Reacts to B.C Government Announcement to Support Sexual Assault Survivors

For immediate release

Anti-violence Organization Reacts to B.C Government Announcement to Support Sexual Assault Survivors


Monday July 24, 2023 – (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C) – Battered Women’s Support Services, a B.C-based anti-violence organization providing frontline advocacy and support services to assist survivors of gender-based violence, is reacting to the B.C government’s announcement on sexual assault programs and policing standards for survivors of sexual assault.

According to Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director of Battered Women’s Support Services: “We have been raising the alarm on the crisis of gender-based violence for years now. We are pleased to see the announcement on funding for sexual assault centres in the province, as well as the new sexual assault standards for B.C policing. However, we know that police responses are only one part of a full safety plan for survivors of sexual assault. As the provincial government itself recognizes, only 6 percent of sexual assaults are even reported to police due to fear and mistrust of the criminal legal system, especially by Indigenous, Black, racialized, sex working, queer and trans, and low-income survivors. Given the widely documented, systemic issues of racism, misogyny, homophobia, and unaccountability in the culture of policing, particularly the RCMP, will these standards alone be enough? What are the meaningful accountability and oversight mechanisms for survivors and frontline organizations to hold the RCMP and municipal forces in B.C accountable if they fail to uphold their own standards?”

Recent data from Statistics Canada shows that sexual assault is the only violent crime in Canada that is not declining. In fact, the sexual assault rate in 2021 was the highest since 1996, with more than 34,200 reports of sexual assault in Canada in 2021, an 18 percent increase from 2020.

“Survivors in this province need a whole-of-government plan to end sexual assaults and all gender-based violence, with pathways to real safety and justice beyond the immediate crisis of an assault. This means adequate housing, financial security, transition services, counseling, wrap around supports, culturally safe programs, violence prevention and education, and real access to justice. Last year, federal, provincial, and territorial governments endorsed a 10-year National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence. We are encouraged that the province is now taking steps to develop a plan to end gender-based violence, and we call on the B.C government to implement a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder, and intersectional provincial plan to end gender-based violence that is commensurate to the scale of the problem. Gender-based violence is an absolute state of emergency in every community in this province,” continues MacDougall.