31 Things British Columbia Can Do Right Now to End Violence Against Women

19. Hold offenders accountable for impacts on children of violence against women

On any given day in Canada, more than 3,000 women, along with their 2,500 children, are living in an emergency shelter to escape male violence. Children see, or hear, 40% to 80% of family violence incidents and many face the same consequences as those who are directly abused. The likelihood of children witnessing violence is heightened when the victim is estranged from her partner. In 2009, over half (52%) of spousal victims with children reported that their children heard or saw assaults on them in the previous five years. This was up from 43% in 2004.

The reality is that women who experience violence are forced to parent under duress and often have to take on the work of addressing the impacts of violence for their children, however, that does not mean they should be held responsible for the violence their children witnessed or its impacts.  Yet, child protection workers often informally requests that the mother take responsibility for preventing the offender from having contact with the child without offering support in having family or criminal law orders amended to support the woman in preventing such contact. Child welfare files and psychiatric assessments often focus on the victim rather than the perpetrator of violence because medical professionals and other institutions concerned with children’s well-being focus their interventions on mothers.  This issue needs to be addressed in social work practice and in the practice standards of other professionals who intervene with families.

Women in British Columbia have waited too long already. That is why we are offering 31 things that BC’s new Provincial Office of Domestic Violence (PODV) can push for right now to increase safety for women and to bring us closer than we have ever been to ending violence against women once and for all. We are calling for 31 social, economic and legal changes, none of which are unachievable in this province. Some would require very little financial investment, and each of them will save resources in the long term given the high costs of violence against women.

For more information:

Jane Doe Advocates – 31 Things British Columbia can do Right Now to End Violence Against Women

Follow The Violence Against Women in Relationship Act – 2. Audit for compliance with BC’s Violence Against Women in Relationship policy

3. Address the immediate financial and housing needs of women fleeing violence

4. Enhance access to justice for women – invest in family, immigration and poverty law legal aid services

5. Make addressing women’s inequality a core learning objective for all BC students

6. Add sexual violence by police to the mandate  of the Independent Investigations Office

7. Address the feminization of poverty with a provincial anti-poverty plan

8. Push to add gender and sex to the hate crime provisions of Canada’sCriminal Code

9. Bring back regional coordination committees for women’s safety

10. Join the call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women

11. Do not let immigration status stand in the way of women’s safety

12. Value the expertise of women’s organizations by investing in their work

13. Make women’s safety the first priority in police response

14. Create binding guidelines on the use of psychological testing and labeling in child custody and child protection cases

15. Train and support specialized Crown Counsel for cases involving gender violence

16. Ensure women have access to interpretation in interaction with police, courts, social workers and other decision-makers

17. Increase access to gender appropriate drug treatment and harm reduction services

18. Monitor and evaluate the implementation and interpretation of BC’s new Family Law Act

Follow @EndingViolence to learn more about #31Things British Columbia Can Do Right Now to End Violence Against Women