What can a Premier do to Stop Sexual Assaults?

We all know that BC Premier Christy Clark disclosed that she too had been attacked as a young girl. This is a brave and good thing to do. However, as Daphne Bramham points out in her wise article, a powerful leader must do much more that just talk. Here is an excerpt from that article in the Vancouver Sun:

“In 2001, Clark’s predecessor Gordon Campbell cut operational funding for transition houses and crisis centres. Since then, it has never been increased. Every year, Women Against Violence Against Women gets 4,000 calls to its crisis line. More than 200 girls and women are on its waiting list for counselling services; half are between the ages of 18 and 24.Last year, WAVA staff took 103 women and girls to the sexual assault centre at Vancouver General Hospital. Nearly half were under 25 and the youngest was 13. Last month alone, 17 teenagers were taken to the centre. Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter hasn’t received any funding since 1983. That’s when sharing women’s personal information became a condition of receiving government money and Rape Relief refused. “We get 1,200 calls every year,” spokesperson Hilla Kerner said Thursday. “And we have to stand in the street every week with tin cans begging for money.” Kerner dismissed Clark’s revelations as “opportunistic,” suggesting that the premier is trying to catch the wake of public support that has mobilized recently for the woman raped behind a dumpster by Stanford University student Brock Taylor and for the women who testified against former CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi.

“She has done nothing for women,” Kerner said. There’s been no new money for transition houses. Welfare rates have been frozen since 2007 even as housing costs have soared. Legal aid funding for family matters has been drastically reduced. Until the Rise Women’s Legal Centre was opened in late May at UBC, only the very poorest women, who had experienced the worst violence, qualified. During Clark’s five years as premier, charge approvals for sexual assault have remained rare; convictions rarer still.The Highway of Tears still doesn’t have bus or shuttle service more than a decade after it was first sought by community members. Victims from smaller communities often have to travel to a city because there’s no one there qualified to administer forensic rape exams.

Having aligned herself with sexual assault survivors, there is much the premier could and should do before next May’s election that goes far beyond just talking about it.”http://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/daphne-bramham-talking-about-sexual-assault-is-good-but-what-will-the-premier-do-about-it


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