November 25 was the International day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It marked the first day of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, which is commemorated every year around the world to raise awareness and trigger action on this pervasive human rights violation. The event culminates on December 10, which is International Human Rights Day.
As part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Canada commemorates National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women on December 6 to mark the anniversary of the murder of 14 young women at École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989.
Halifax Regional Police, through the Victim Services Unit, assist victims of intimate partner abuse. The unit is comprised of civilian employees and volunteers who work with police members to assist with non-policing issues such as emotional support and referral information. The unit’s role is to work collaboratively with police officers to assist victims of crime. Victim services screens and reviews all intimate partner/spousal calls to police. They also provide crisis intervention and support to victims at a scene. Finally, the unit provides case coordination with primary service providers, safety planning, Domestic Violence Emergency Response System (DVERS) alarm installations and information to victims identified as being at high risk. DVERS is an alarm system installed in the residence of a victim to alert police in case of imminent danger. Any person, regardless of gender or age, who has been the victim of a crime, may use the services of the Victim Services Unit.
HRP continues to strive to raise awareness surrounding the issue of gender violence. In May 2012, HRP launched the “Be more than a bystander” video campaign, accompanied by the “Don’t be that guy” poster campaign, both of which were aimed at men to create awareness of violence against women. “For us to move forward on violence against women, the involvement of men must become central,” says Verona Singer, HRP Victims Services Coordinator. “Men and boys can be our allies as we engage in the work to eradicate violence against girls and women.”
More information on the campaign and HRP Victim Services can be found at halifax.ca/MenEndingViolenceAgainstWomen and halifax.ca/Police/Programs/victimservices.html