31 Things British Columbia Can Do Right Now to End Violence Against Women
15. Train and support specialized Crown Counsel for cases involving gender violence
Research suggests that well-trained and supported specialized Crown Counsel dramatically improves women’s experiences with the criminal justice system. In cases involving intimate partners, Crown specialization either inside or outside of a more comprehensive domestic violence court has been shown to be an effective way of supporting victims and enhancing offender accountability.
The courts have yet to formally, and in a precedent setting way, recognize sexual assault as form of systemic discrimination against women. Despite the fact that the BC Crown policy manual directs crown to ensure all risk factors are communicated to the court to protect the victim and public, to assign these files early and when possible ensure they are assigned to a crown with specialized training on sexual assaultwho should make every effort to prioritize scheduling of sex assault trials to have these cases move quickly through the criminal justice system, this is not being done. Along with the introduction of Crown who specialize in sexual assault, we call on all Crown Counsel to investigate their own biases and how the current rape culture impacts them, to unpack their learning’s and socialization about the value of women, to think about how they ask questions, how they deal with women as witnesses and to recognize the significant impact these processes, and the meanings derived from the processes, have on women’s lives and society as a whole.
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:
Follow The Violence Against Women in Relationship Act – 2. Audit for compliance with BC’s Violence Against Women in Relationship policy
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