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New supports for sexual assault victims should extend to rural areas

Tri-County Women's Centre in Yarmouth.
Tri-County Women's Centre in Yarmouth.

DIGBY, NS - The province has announced more supports for sexual assault victims, and a Tri-County coordinator says she hopes they extend to rural areas.

Lisanne Turner is the Sexualized Violence Intervention Services Coordinator at the Tri-County Women’s Centre in Yarmouth. She says the government’s decision to provide more supports to victims is “welcome news.”

“A more supportive, less traumatic experience for people in the justice system is a really great thing,” she says, “but we want to emphasize these services also need a rural lens.”

The province announced in a release Mar. 8 it would be expanding efforts to provide services to victims of sexual assault. One of the goals will be to appoint two specialized prosecutors through the Public Prosecution Service specifically for sexual assault cases.

Turner hopes these new prosecutors will lead to “more victims coming forward and maybe even more convictions,” but also hopes they will be able to travel throughout the province.

“All services are harder to access in rural areas,” says Turner, adding that sometimes people have to really on internet research – which is not always reliable – to determine what help is available to them.

“Having these new lawyers travel to different communities would mean more people could have access to a more trauma-informed approach,” she says.

Turner would also like to see engagement of existing services for sexual assault victims with the government on matters relating to this new strategy. She says this would ideally involve consultation meetings for working groups, followed by information sessions for the broader community.

This will be the province’s first Sexual Violence Strategy. In the release, Justice Minister and Attorney General Diana Whalen said “we need to provide better supports for victims of sexual and domestic violence in the criminal justice system.”

The government has invested $6 million toward the initiative. In addition to hiring two new prosecutors, the government will:

        ·      hire two special Public Prosecution Service prosecutors for sexual assault cases;

        ·      create partnerships with federal government and Public Prosecution Service to better inform victims on how to navigate the system;

        ·      specialized training of crown attorneys on sexual assault cases;

        ·      check in on police to ensure they are able to handle cases of this nature;

        ·      urge importance of sexual assault cases at next meeting of provincial and federal governments;

        ·      open a new Domestic Violence Court in Halifax, and

        ·      continue to create more services.

Lisanne Turner is the Sexualized Violence Intervention Services Coordinator at the Tri-County Women’s Centre in Yarmouth. She says the government’s decision to provide more supports to victims is “welcome news.”

“A more supportive, less traumatic experience for people in the justice system is a really great thing,” she says, “but we want to emphasize these services also need a rural lens.”

The province announced in a release Mar. 8 it would be expanding efforts to provide services to victims of sexual assault. One of the goals will be to appoint two specialized prosecutors through the Public Prosecution Service specifically for sexual assault cases.

Turner hopes these new prosecutors will lead to “more victims coming forward and maybe even more convictions,” but also hopes they will be able to travel throughout the province.

“All services are harder to access in rural areas,” says Turner, adding that sometimes people have to really on internet research – which is not always reliable – to determine what help is available to them.

“Having these new lawyers travel to different communities would mean more people could have access to a more trauma-informed approach,” she says.

Turner would also like to see engagement of existing services for sexual assault victims with the government on matters relating to this new strategy. She says this would ideally involve consultation meetings for working groups, followed by information sessions for the broader community.

This will be the province’s first Sexual Violence Strategy. In the release, Justice Minister and Attorney General Diana Whalen said “we need to provide better supports for victims of sexual and domestic violence in the criminal justice system.”

The government has invested $6 million toward the initiative. In addition to hiring two new prosecutors, the government will:

        ·      hire two special Public Prosecution Service prosecutors for sexual assault cases;

        ·      create partnerships with federal government and Public Prosecution Service to better inform victims on how to navigate the system;

        ·      specialized training of crown attorneys on sexual assault cases;

        ·      check in on police to ensure they are able to handle cases of this nature;

        ·      urge importance of sexual assault cases at next meeting of provincial and federal governments;

        ·      open a new Domestic Violence Court in Halifax, and

        ·      continue to create more services.

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