March 26, 2009
The Honourable Deb Matthews
Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues
Ontario Women’s Directorate
777 Bay Street, 6th Floor
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2J4
RE: Ontario Sexual Violence Action Plan
Dear Minister Deb Matthews,
Recently, the Kingston Frontenac Anti-Violence Coordinating Committee (KFACC) has learned the Ontario Liberal Government has made a commitment to create a Sexual Violence Action Plan for the province. There are a number of critical issues we ask you to consider as this plan is developed.
KFACC consists of representatives from agencies providing services for victims of partner abuse and sexual violence, their families, and agencies that work with perpetrators. We include organizations working throughout the city of Kingston, Frontenac County, and in some parts of Lennox & Addington County.
Sectors represented on our committee include law enforcement and justice, shelter and housing, health, hospitals, mental health and counselling support. The different perspectives and expertise we each bring to KFACC enable us to develop a full understanding of the challenges, issues and priorities for our clients, our communities, and one another.
Our mandate is to contribute to the eradication of violence by promoting individual and community awareness of issues relating to domestic and sexual violence, and to support a coordinated community response to these issues.
KFACC is committed to integrating issues of sexual violence into our work in a more comprehensive way, and we understand the need to fully address the complexities and far reaching effects of Sexual Violence in our communities.
Please consider the following as you develop your Sexual Violence Action Plan:
- Take a “snapshot” of work being done currently through education, acute care, counselling, the justice system and advocacy. Assess the existing relationships between programs in the various communities by surveying the organizations and individuals providing this support. (e.g., The current French Language Services Assessment that is taking place in Kingston by the Ministry of the Attorney General.) What is happening out there in our communities right now?
- Better integrate the subject of sexual violence into workplace training. We recognize a disconnect between the education of employees around what they can do if they are victims of sexual violence, and what they can expect will happen when they report. Even what sexual violence is, is unclear. How are issues relating sexual violence integrated into Workplace Safety Programs?
- Design curriculum for all grades of school to create a Culture of Respect. (e.g., The “Boys to Men” campaign.)
- Create an affiliation with the Ministry of Colleges and Training and Ministry of Education Business School to fully integrate the issue of sexual violence into course credits in community college Police Foundations, Child and Youth Worker, Social Services Worker and related programs.
- Dispel myths about who can and cannot be sexually assaulted. (i.e., Women sexually assaulted by their partners in domestic/dating relationships or sex trade workers aren’t victims.)
- Establish standardized assessment in the healthcare system that asks “Have you ever experienced Sexual Violence?” specifically.
- Develop a provincial prevention campaign that is culturally competent.
- Provide education about sexual violence for especially vulnerable communities such as long-term care recipients, people with disAbilities, and refugee women.
- Empower local coordinating committees/service providers with financial resources and opportunities for active participation in the development, implementation and evaluation of the SVAP.
- Seek and integrate input from communities on the provincial outreach campaigns that may be created (e.g., Neighbours, Friends and Families, Internet exploitation prevention initiatives) and programs created in partnership with community organizations with experience in this field. As well, identify experts around the issues of Sexual Violence and use their expertise to inform programs and education initiatives.
- Specialize the justice system-similar to the Domestic Violence Court-with connections among Family, Domestic Sexual Violence and Criminal Court.
- Study the correlations between sentence lengths given for crimes of sexual violence and recidivism rates, and re-evaluate sentencing guidelines based on the results.
- Conduct an in-depth analysis of immigration laws and how they affect/protect those who have experienced sexual violence. (e.g., Victims of human trafficking.)
- Include collaboration with federal partners on components of the Sexual Violence Action Plan where overlap in services occurs.
- Commit to funding appropriate research partners to enable provincial bodies to facilitate research opportunities. These provincial bodies include the Ontario Network of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centres, the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres, Ontario Interval and Transition Houses, DisAbilities Women Network, Ontario Network of Aboriginal Women.
- Create a cost analysis of sexual violence on the health, judicial, educational and income support systems.
- Engage men in the prevention of sexual violence and create much needed support for men who have experienced sexual violence.
As a diverse group of community organizations that deal primarily with issues of violence and provide support for those who have experienced violence in their lives, we feel a Sexual Violence Action Plan including the above will help our communities address sexual violence in a meaningful and lasting way.
We understand that many voices and experiences will need to be involved in creating a comprehensive plan encompassing all Ministries and communities involved in the issues of sexual violence; and we appreciate the opportunity to share our thoughts with you.