Today is the International day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It is also the beginning 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, assists victims of intimate partner abuse and sexual violence. 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 and sexual violence 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, and information to victims identified as being at high risk. 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. For the past two years, HRP has promoted the “Don’t be that guy” poster campaign, which is aimed at men to create awareness of violence against women. Earlier this month, HRP Victim Services partnered with a number of local organizations to launch the Clothesline Project, which allowed victims of violence against women the opportunity to decorate t-shirts with words or images that represent the experiences of violence against women. The t-shirts were then hung from clotheslines at Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth and Halifax Shopping Centre.
“Eliminating violence against women requires collaboration and partnerships between community and all levels of government,” says Verona Singer, HRP Victims Services Coordinator. “Now is the time for action to bring about positive changes in HRM."