February 27, 2017
Honourable Andrew Parsons, Minister for Justice & Public Safety
Cc: Honourable Cathy Bennett, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women
Re: Free legal advice for sexual assault victims
We were pleased to hear last year that you were considering implementing a program which offered 3 free hours of legal advice to victims of sexual assault – similar to the program in Ontario.
We respectfully request that the Ministry of Justice implement this program immediately. We believe this program will help victims to be informed and to navigate an often adversarial and complex system.
YWCA Canada has published research that shows “there are convictions in only .3% of the 460,000 sexual assaults that occur annually in Canada. That means 99.7% of sexual assaults do not result in legal sanctions by the criminal justice system.” Many women who are sexually assaulted often experience victim blaming and feel re-victimized when they report sexual assault and go through the legal process (Canadian Women’s Foundation). Here in our province, 1 in 2 women and girls in Newfoundland and Labrador will experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime.
We cannot increase reporting if we do not remove barriers, and ensure victims are treated with respect and with dignity by our criminal justice system.
We offer our expertise and support in adapting this program in Newfoundland and Labrador.
PANSOW Chair, Executive Director, St. John’s Status of Women Council
PANSOW Co Chair, Executive Director, Bay St. George Status of Women Council
The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is a grass roots, feminist organization & nonpartisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women.