Social Justice versus Criminal Justice
When Women Became Victims
By Sonya Boyce and Angela Marie MacDougall
The work to end violence against women in British Columbia over recent years has been further compromised in the past few months with the closures of four women’s centres located in Comox Valley – Courtney , Kelowna, Vernon and Cranbrook. Women’s centres, once the heartbeat of the women’s movement in BC, became dispensable in the beginning of the century when the British Columbia provincial government viewed women’s centres at best redundant if not irrelevant. And it was their feminist-based service delivery model that was problematic as then Minister of Women’s Equality Lynn Stephens indicated after meeting with the BC Coalition of Women’s Centres in a June, 2003.
Since 2003, the Ministry of Women’s Equality has been eliminated and the BC Provincial government has shuffled and renamed the “women’s portfolio” several times, now resting with the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General – Crime Prevention and Victim Services Division, with BC Housing, the crown agency of the provincial government who reports to the Ministry of Energy and Mines (Minister Responsible for Housing), to a much lesser degree there are women specific services funded by Ministry of Social Development – Employment and Labour Market Services Division and the Ministry of Child and Family Development.
Anytime you get old school feminist activists together in BC, it is inevitable that they get nostalgic about the short and relative golden era when BC had a Ministry of Women’s Equality and the province of BC stood ahead of the country with a progressive equality seeking vision informing policy and funding for women’s groups. That happened again recently, when Surrey Women’s Centre and Battered Women’s Support Services got together to reflect on the recent women’s centre closures. In this reflection we idealized the past, analyzed the present day and imagined the future including our future role as women’s equality seeking organizations with victim service funding.
When Women Became Victims is a blog series by Surrey Women’s Centre and Battered Women’s Support Services which will seek to illuminate the current situation, the progressive dismantling of the social safety net for women and we will issue a call to action as we attempt to make the case why this is increasing the risk for women to experience gender based violence including sexual and physical assault.
This introduction to the series is dedicated to the 52% of the population in BC who seek and struggle for equality and liberation everyday.