Advertisement

Women's council pushing N.L. government to form new task force to end gender-based violence

DCIM\100MEDIA\DJI_0621.JPG (CBC - image credit)
DCIM\100MEDIA\DJI_0621.JPG (CBC - image credit)
DCIM\100MEDIA\DJI_0621.JPG
DCIM\100MEDIA\DJI_0621.JPG

The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women is calling on the provincial government to form a new task force focused on ending gender-based violence in Newfoundland and Labrador. (CBC)

The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women released a report in hopes to push the provincial government to build a task force to end gender-based violence in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The report includes 88 calls to action, with recommendations ranging from increased funding for shelters and violence prevention, and improved training and accountability for first responders and the criminal justice system.

"We see some of the highest rates from right across Canada in regard to gender-based violence in our province," said Sharon Williston, co-chair of the Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women.

"In the report, it highlighted how [violence] has been 30 per cent higher within the St. John's area, just as an example, compared to our national average."

The data for Canada is grim. More than 40 per cent of women have experienced some form of intimate partner violence in their lifetimes, according to a Statistics Canada report in 2021. In 2018, 44 per cent of women reported experiencing some form of psychological, physical, or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes

Williston said more women are coming forward for help in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"We need to be equipped to not only help those that are survivors of this violence, but we also need to do more in regard to prevention," she said.

Williston said this also isn't the first time her organization has called for a provincial government task force.

Stacey Hoffe is executive director of the Mokami Status of Women Council.  The Women's Centre delivers community programming free to all women and gender diverse people.
Stacey Hoffe is executive director of the Mokami Status of Women Council. The Women's Centre delivers community programming free to all women and gender diverse people.

Stacey Hoffe is the executive director of the Mokami Status of Women Council. (Amanda Gear/CBC)

She said other task forces have been started in the past, but to ensure success this time around it needs to be equipped to navigate the complexities of the issue.

"A cookie-cutter approach is not going to work. It needs to be on a reasonable level and we need to ensure that the voices of the survivors, and the folks that are working within community, are heard all the way across," she said.

Ellen Maher, a consultant in Halifax who helped write the report, travelled to Labrador to speak with survivors firsthand, in partnership with the Mokami Status of Women Council.

Mahar said being in Labrador is what gave the report its depth and insight.

LISTEN | Sharon Williston speaks with CBC Radio's Newfoundland Morning:

She said the task force needs to include all political parties and all sectors.

"We want clear objectives, protocols and channels for reporting and we also really want to centre the voices of survivors, families and community," she said.

"We want to really see that shift in power in the gender-based violence task force and provide a regional platform for diverse voices to strategically and thoughtfully make a collective effort to end gender-based violence in Newfoundland and Labrador."

The report was launched on Friday, during International Women's Day.

Stacey Hoffe, co-chair of the Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women, said there has been no formal response from the provincial government as of yet.

"We are really hopeful that there are some positive conversations to come," she said.

Download our free CBC News app to sign up for push alerts for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador. Click here to visit our landing page.