Newfoundland and Labrador proclaims week to mark sexual violence

By Terry Davidson

Law360 Canada (September 13, 2023, 3:39 PM EDT) -- Newfoundland is in the midst of marking Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

It was on Sept. 11 that Pam Parsons, Newfoundland and Labrador’s minister responsible for women and gender equality, proclaimed the event, which runs Sept. 10 to 16.

“Sexual Violence Awareness Week is an opportunity to raise public awareness about sexual assault, and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence,” states a news release. “The Provincial Government works closely with community partners and violence prevention advocates, including End Sexual Violence NL, to reduce all forms of violence, abuse and neglect in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Such violence will not be tolerated in the province, said Parsons in a statement, calling efforts toward its eradication a “shared responsibility.”

“The Office of Women and Gender Equality works closely with our community partners, the Department of Justice and Public Safety, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, to prevent gender-based and sexual violence, and to help individuals experiencing it,” she said.

Numbers provided by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary suggest that intimate partner violence in the province has, for the most part, had been gradually increasing over the past several years.

A summary of “Intimate Partner Violence Requests” requiring a referral or review notes that there were 1,657 calls in 2017, but this number increased to 2,138 between January and November 2022.

The news release notes that Newfoundland and Labrador recently received $700,000 from Ottawa in a bid to support crisis hotlines for victims of gender-based violence in the province.

New Brunswick, which has had its own issues with gender-based violence, announced last month that it had received that amount for its crisis lines.

Of all Canadian provinces, New Brunswick had the greatest increase in intimate partner violence between 2009 and 2021 — a rise of 39 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.

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