KELOWNA, May 24, 2012
According to a recently released Statistics Canada report, Kelowna has the third highest rate of police-reported Family Violence in Canada.
The report indicates that unlike other violent crimes, women and children are the primary targets of violence from spouses or other family members.
The risk of experiencing family violence is twice as high for females as for males. Females reported more serious violence than males. In addition, the rate of sexual offences that came to the attention of police was four times higher for girls than for boys.
This news comes in the wake of the City of Kelowna’s decision to eliminate the Advisory Committee on Women and Community Issues, and the Provincial Government’s decision to dismantle the Women’s Bridging Employment Program, a specialized employment program that assisted women affected by violence to become safe and economically independent.
Despite this, Kelowna maintains a strong and committed network of domestic violence response services which includes a Domestic Violence Unit at the local police detachment, a Specialized Victim Assistance Program, women’s shelters, and counselling services for women and children affected by violence. The Elizabeth Fry Society is calling for more resources to support these existing services in Kelowna.
“What this report means to me is that women and children in Kelowna are coming forward to the police; they are unwilling to tolerate the violence that they are experiencing and they are seeking support and safety,” Aimee Thompson, Agency Coordinator of the Elizabeth Fry Society, the local charity that advocates on behalf of women and children in Kelowna. “If there’s a forest fire that threatens our community we find the resources to put out the fire and help those who have been displaced. We need to prioritize finding resources to respond to violence in our community in this way.”
The existing programs and services in Kelowna need adequate funding in order to strengthen the response to violence against women and children and ensure offender accountability.
There are many ways that our community can act in response to this report:
- Know your rights and options
- Make a donation toward programs that support survivors,
- Be informed about the prevalence and dynamics of all violence (including sexualized violence and child abuse),
- Attend and support awareness events for survivors (such as Take Back the Night),
- Write a letter to your MLA (Kelowna-Mission, Kelowna – Lake Country, Westside – Kelowna) or to the Minister of Justice, Shirley Bond urging them to make Kelowna and Violence Agaisnt Women & Children a priority for funding and policy development