VIOLENCE PREVENTION IS EVERYONE'S RESPONSIBILITY

Project P.E.A.C.E.

(Promoting Equality and Accountability through Community Engagement)

Context

“Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation, and it is perhaps the most pervasive. It knows no boundaries of geography, culture or wealth. As long as it continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace.”

Kofi Annan, Former UN Secretary-General

Approximately 50% of women over age 16 in Newfoundland and Labrador experience at least one incident of sexual or physical violence throughout their lifetime.[1] This epidemic of gender-based violence is fostered by a society rooted in an oppressive discourse of patriarchal domination, authority and control.  Gender inequality is both reflected in and reinforced by our social, economic, and political institutions as well as our ideologies and the culture of silence that surrounds violence against women and girls.  It is this context of domination that not only fuels an epidemic of violence but is also maintained and reinforced by this violence.  Violence against women continues to violate the human rights and health of women and girls in the form of domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and girls and the sexual abuse of children.  Women and girls are marginalized and rendered vulnerable within a society that perpetuates their oppression.  Gender inequality is an extensive injustice and permeates the lived experience of women and girls throughout the world.  Our Corner Brook, Bay of Islands and Humber Valley region is certainly no different.

We recognize that to address gender-based violence it is essential to highlight the voices of women who have been silenced by marginalization.  It is through their experiences of oppression and violence that we can recognize and comprehend the need for improvements and reform of legal, medical and other supportive service delivery for victims of gender-based violence.  These developments are profoundly needed in our region to highlight institutional barriers, service gaps and to ensure that women and girls are not further oppressed by those services that are intended to help them.

There is a recognized need for violence awareness and prevention, as well as intervention and supportive services for victims of violence in all areas of our region.  The development of a regional needs assessment is a critical step to understanding the nature and effects of gender-based violence so as to develop solution-based approaches that address the lived reality of women and girls in our region.

Scope

The Corner Brook, Bay of Islands and Humber Valley regions are comprised of 20 communities and approximately 37,500 people.  Corner Brook is the largest of these communities and acts as a regional service centre for much of Western Newfoundland and Labrador.  The Community Development Facilitator is based out of Corner Brook but will undertake periodic travel to outlying areas of the region for meetings, consultations, focus groups and awareness sessions.

Our target population for the purpose of this project is females ages 16 and up, as well as government and community-based service providers.  With successful implementation of this project, we expect all women and girls living in this area to benefit in light of our belief that no one is immune to the effects of gender-based violence.

Project Details

Project P.E.A.C.E. is a two-year (March 2012 – March 2014) project funded by Status of Women Canada that encompasses the development of a needs assessment and subsequently, a comprehensive regional strategy to address gender-based violence through primary and secondary intervention and community response.  This strategy will reflect the concerns and lived experiences of women and girls and will highlight anti-oppressive, empowerment-based approaches to working with victims of gender-based violence.  It will address service gaps for victims of gender-based violence throughout our region and will see greater community capacity, accountability and mobilization to address this complex public health and human rights issue.

Strategic responses to complex problems like gender-based violence are becoming the favoured approach on a global scale.  In 2008, the UNFPA released UNFPA Strategy and Framework for Action to Addressing Gender-Based Violence: 2008-2011.[2] This strategy was developed to establish accountability and direct programming and capacity-development initiatives to address gender-based violence on national and global levels.  It is a comprehensive strategy and outlines priority items for intensified action on gender-based violence.  USAID/Eastern and Central Africa and UNICEF/East and Southern Africa Regional Office have also released a strategic framework to address gender-based violence, as have other government and community-based organizations throughout the United States and the world.

A strategy aimed at primary and secondary intervention to address gender-based violence in Newfoundland and Labrador is yet to be developed.  Newfoundland and Labrador is a culturally-rich and diverse province rooted in a unique sociocultural context.  Between 1999 and 2004, Newfoundland and Labrador was the only jurisdiction in Canada to show an increase in spousal violence against women while the overall rate actually declined.[3] Developing a strategy that is tapered to local needs and responds to the institutional barriers and service gaps that exist for women and girls in our rural-based region would be an invaluable resource and a pivotal document to address gender-based violence across the province.

Central to the success of this project is the invaluable efforts of our Community Development Facilitator, Janice Kennedy, whose responsibility it is to plan, develop and implement the key activities involved in the project. This position is supervised by the Western Regional Coalition to End Violence with collaborative, committee-based support and input from community stakeholders comprising our Steering Committee; Corner Brook Status of Women Council, Western Health, Corrections Canada and Grenfell Campus (Memorial University).

For further details about Project P.E.A.C.E. contact Janice Kennedy, Community Development Facilitator, at 709-634-6606 or cdf.wrcev@gmail.com


[1] Johnson, H. (2006).  Measuring Violence Against Women.  Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada

[2] www.unfpa.org/webdav/site/global/shared/…/2009_add_gen_vio.pdf

[3] Ogrodnik, L.  (2008).  Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile 2008.  Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada.

VIOLENCE PREVENTION IS EVERYONE'S RESPONSIBILITY