January 25, 2018
Fredericton – The New Brunswick Women’s Council is urging government to consider broadening the scope of proposed domestic violence and intimate partner leave to include gender-based violence that occurs outside of the context of current or former domestic or intimate relationships. This would ensure that victims and survivors of sexual violence perpetrated by acquaintances or strangers will be eligible for the leave.
“Sexual violence is one of the most prevalent kinds of gender-based violence,” said council co-chair Jewell Mitchell. “While it overlaps with and is at times a component of domestic and intimate partner violence, it is a distinct kind of violence that does not only occur within the context of domestic and intimate relationships. The challenges faced by survivors of sexual violence, as well as their needs, are not lessened when the violence is committed by a stranger or acquaintance rather than a current or former partner.”
The council has recommended that government consider following the approach Ontario and Saskatchewan took when creating their respective violence-related leaves. Saskatchewan provides leave for interpersonal violence; Ontario’s leave is for domestic and sexual violence with no requirement that sexual violence be within the context of a past or current domestic or intimate partnership.
“We commend government’s plan to create domestic and intimate partner violence leave, as well as its commitment to consult as supporting regulations are developed, and urge them to expand the leave’s scope to include more forms of gender-based violence,” said council co-chair Jody Dallaire. “We are in the midst of a reckoning over the lack of protections and supports for survivors of sexual violence, as evidenced by the Globe and Mail’s Unfounded series as well as the Me Too movement. Government has an opportunity to respond directly to this in a progressive and impactful way.”
The New Brunswick Women’s Council is an independent advisory body on women’s equality issues.
Media contact: Beth Lyons, Executive Director, New Brunswick Women’s Council, 506-462-5142 [email protected]