B.C.'s anti-violence campaign not enough: advocates

Jeremy Nuttall

By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours Vancouver



The provincial government’s funding for a campaign combatting violence against women is a weak response to a serious problem, says one advocacy group.

The Ministry of Children and Family Development is providing $160,000 to help the Be More Than a Bystander Campaign, which is funded by a variety of groups and encourages people to speak up about such abuse.

Victoria earmarks about $70 million a year in prevention and intervention for families subjected to domestic violence “and other crimes,” it said.

But Laura Track from West Coast LEAF, a women’s advocacy organization, said while any funds to fight violence against women are welcome — many programs aimed at the cause lost provincial funding under the BC Liberal government.

“Money for an important initiative is a good thing, but a policy that takes money away from poor children is deeply distressing and can’t be compensated for by money for a violence-against-women initiative,” said Track.

According to Track, $18 million in clawbacks to social assistance have left many families headed by single mothers in poverty, with almost half of children in such homes living in poverty.

Being trapped in poverty makes women more prone to remaining in abusive relationships because they don’t have access to safety nets or financial stability.

“It seems clear to me that this is an issue of discrimination,” Track said. “The fact that these clawbacks disproportionately impact single mothers and their children suggests to me that there is an equality issue.”

Track said some lawyers are moving towards taking the issue to court.

According to the ministry, 800,000 children a year in Canada witness a woman being abused.




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