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

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

On March 18, BC’s new Family Law Act (FLA) comes into force. The FLA replaces the 1978 Family Relations Act and is being heralded by many as a major step forward in terms of addressing violence against women. The FLA includes a comprehensive definition of family violence. Judges must now consider family violence in determining the best interest of the child and appropriateness of any arrangement that requires guardians to cooperate.  Lawyers must now screen for the possible presence of family violence and the court must be advised of other criminal or civil proceedings involving the family. However, the new FLA also mandates increased use of out of court dispute resolution processes, and there is no increase in family law legal aid or mandated training for lawyers. In this context, it is imperative that a rigorous evaluation program be put into place immediately to ensure that the legislation is meeting its objectives and that safeguards to ensure that women are not being inappropriately channeled into mediation and arbitration are working.

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

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