Editor: NANCY WRIGHT
By Dr. Verona Singer, CCJA Past President and Criminologist
LUTTE CONTRE LES VIOLENCES, POUR L’ÉGALITÉ ENTRE LES SEXES ET POUR LA JUSTICE POUR TOUTES : MÊME COMBAT !
Par Jessica Gosselin, Manon Monastesse et Marie-Hélène Senay
BUILDING RESILIENCE AFTER INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE
By Liz Chamberlain
STRUCTURAL VIOLENCE IN CANADA’S PRISONS FOR WOMEN
By Vicki Chartrand and Petey
A NATIONAL ACTION PLAN TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND GIRLS
By the Assembly of First Nations
(Reprinted with permission of the Assembly of First Nations – www.afn.ca)
BY Dr. VERONA SINGER, CCJA Past President and Criminologist
March 8, 2016 is International Women’s Day. This year the theme from Status of Women Canada is “Women’s Empowerment Leads to Equality”. That includes women’s and girls’ rights to live in homes and communities where they feel safe, secure and are free from violence.
According to the most recent 2014 General Social Survey, gendered violence is still a pressing issue in Canada. About 4 % or 760,000 Canadians have been physically or sexually abused by their partners in the last 5 years. Many women report intimate partner violence after a breakup and that the severity of violence increases after the break-up. Women suffer the most severe types of spousal violence including being sexually assaulted, choked, beaten or threatened with a gun or knife. In addition to physical injuries, many women report experiencing psychological effects consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder. Girls between the ages of 12-17 years old are the most likely to experience sexual violence and 68 % of the police-reported family violence rates involve women and girls. Indigenous women are more likely to experience intimate partner violence than non-indigenous women.
The federal government has recognized the seriousness of violence among indigenous women with the announcement of an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women. It is anticipated to commence in the summer of 2016. Moreover the Status of Women is starting discussions on a national action plan on violence against women. The issue of sexualized violence has also received national coverage with the recent trial of a former media broadcaster. The intense scrutiny of the victims’ testimonies in court revealed how difficult a sexual assault trial can be for victims, and various questions have been raised as to whether this trial and the ensuing media coverage will deter women from reporting sexual assault to the police in the future.
In this issue of the Justice Report, Sarah Granke discusses the sexual violence strategy that has been developed for Nova Scotia. The strategy is in response to the Rehtaeh Parsons case, where a 17-year-old girl took her life in 2013 after a video of her sexual assault by some male classmates went viral. Julia Rustad, with the RCMP, writes on Nova Scotia’s response to high risk domestic violence cases. Liz Chamberlain, registered psychotherapist in Ontario, writes on building resistance after intimate partner violence and Vicki Chartrand, professor at Bishop’s University in Quebec examines structural violence in women’s prisons. Also from Quebec is an article by Louise Riendeau (Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale) regarding female victims of domestic violence and one from the Fédération des maisons d’hébergement pour femmes focusing on the fight against violence and for equality. With permission from the Assembly of First Nations, this issue also contains the full text of “A National Action Plan to End Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls”.
The prevalence of male violence against women was made visible by second-wave feminists such as Susan Brownmiller and Andrea Dworkin’s work on rape, Del Martin on battered women, bell hooks on black women and Lee Maracle on indigenous women. These and other second-wave feminists raised awareness about violence against women, analyzing the problem from various feminist perspectives and strategized around solutions. Raising awareness on gendered violence continues with a new generation of feminists and their allies around the globe insisting on no more violence.
Nova Scotia High Risk Case Coordination Protocol Framework – Domestic Violence and the Evolution of Information Sharing with Service Providers
This article discusses the High Risk Case Coordination Protocol Framework in Nova Scotia which commenced in April 2003. The Framework is in place for the coordinated case management and information sharing between service providers where domestic violence files have been designated high risk by any one of those services.
Lutte contre les violences, pour l’égalité entre les sexes et pour la justice pour toutes : même combat !
The violence suffered by women entering our shelters is a striking indicator of our system’s inability to fully ensure justice for them. Many obstacles limit women’s accessibility to justice, notably their immigration status, the lack of coherence between various courts, and how the matter of the legal custody of children is handled. We need to examine what role justice plays in the eradication of violence and in getting offenders to accept responsibility for their actions. As well, it is crucial that we recognize the limits of the judicial system that, in too many cases, contributes to revictimizing women and ensuring impunity for offenders.
Liz discusses the support needed by victims to properly deal with the life-altering impact of trauma resulting from intimate-partner violence and also to get through the court process. To this end, Chamberlain discusses three modalities used during therapy that can enable women to move from victims to survivors and on through to resilience. Helpful Hearing involves listening without interruption to help bring to light critically relevant information for the court process while building resilience in the victim. Reaffirming and Reorganizing involves the two-pronged approach of (1) reminding the victim that her story has been heard and validating that she is stronger than she may feel for having survived the trauma, and (2) working with the victim to reorganize the pieces of her story to identify her healing goals. Finally, Building Up and Building Out consists of summarizing the victim’s abuse and helping reframe her trauma to help work through complex emotions: once the victim has a sense of being built up, she begins the building-out phase, during which she strengthens her sense of resiliency and is able to articulate her growth. For more about Liz and her services, please refer to www.chamberlainandassociates.ca/about-us.php)
Sarah Granke reports on an important strategy against sexual violence in Nova Scotia, where the number of reported sexual assaults is higher than the national average. Sarah stresses that youth aged 15-24 are among those at greater risk of sexual victimization and that a radical shift in culture requires seeding generational change. She also highlights the importance of intersectionality, noting that upwards of 90% of reported sexual assaults occur against women and girls and that Indigenous women and girls are three times more likely to be sexually victimized than non-Indigenous women. The Government of Nova Scotia committed $6 million in 2014 over three years towards the creation and implementation of the sexual violence strategy for the province. Implementation began in June, 2015 with a focus on community engagement, ensuring that supports are varied and accessible, and that relevant policy and processes are being inventorized for change.
About the Author
As a community-based advocate, sexual health educator, counsellor and researcher, Sarah Granke has worked for a decade at the grass roots level to champion the health, well-being and safety of communities. Sarah’s commitment to social justice has included developing and expanding the youth program at Manitoba’s LGBTQ resource centre; bringing together over 400 young women from across the country to explore and take action on complex issues; providing non-judgmental, inclusive sexual health education to youth; and as a sexual assault counsellor, supporting survivors on their healing journey. Sarah recently completed a Master of Social Work Degree at Wilfrid Laurier University with a clinical focus on trauma recovery and sexual violence, complementing her undergraduate education in Women’s and Gender Studies.
Domestic offences should be treated as any other crime against the person. However, although the number of recorded offenses has increased steadily, it is clear that crimes committed within a couple are under-reported. Is it possible that certain judicial practices and procedures discourage such female victims from filing a complaint? Is it unrealistic to think that justice can be served to such victims? The Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale (maisons-femmes.qc.ca)
believes that justice can be served, provided that judges, the police and the legal system have the means to play their part in full.
This article explores how structural forms of violence experienced by women in Canadian prisons are created by the institutional logic, language and routine practices found within the prison. This is illustrated in the article through the practices such as strip searching, the use of segregation and the impacts for Indigenous women in prison. The routine practices of security and order normalize or justify a violence in prisons that would otherwise be considered illegal. The article concludes that we need to rethink the prison and punishment as practices of justice.
The CCJA wishes to thank the Assembly of First Nations (www.afn.ca) for their permission to reprint this document available from their website.
Opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the Association’s views, but are included to encourage reflection and action on the criminal justice system throughout Canada.