House of Commons gender-based violence report to address ‘rape culture’

The report from the committee on the status of women will also tackle violence against women on university campuses and online harassment

Marilyn Gladu. (Photograph by Jessica Deeks)

Marilyn Gladu. (Photograph by Jessica Deeks)

OTTAWA – Violence against young women on university campuses, online harassment and how the justice system can do a better job at treating victims of sexual assault are all expected to feature prominently in a report on gender-based violence coming Monday afternoon from the House of Commons committee on the status of women.

Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu, who chairs the committee that heard from 99 witnesses over the last year on what the federal government could do to reduce violence against women and girls, said the report will come with some recommendations on how to spread good ideas around the country.

“You will see some important recommendations on how to leverage best practices that are existing there,” Gladu said in an interview last week.

That would include suggestions for tackling what she calls “rape culture,” which she said touches on everything from street harassment to “victim blaming” in the criminal justice system.

Gladu pointed to a private member’s bill from interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose that would require mandatory training for would-be judges on issues surrounding sexual assault as one potential way “to try to get a better path forward for victims that are trying to go through the justice system and become revictimized.”

Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef is expected to unveil a federal gender-based violence strategy in the coming weeks, which she has said will look at ways to prevent violence and support its survivors and also at how to improve the criminal justice system.

New Democrat MP Sheila Malcolmson said her party is issuing a supplementary report calling for the government to go a step further by developing a national action plan on gender-based violence that involves the provinces and territories.

“We heard one witness after the next say we need the provinces to work together and provide equivalent level of service and we need everybody pulling in the same direction and this patchwork makes women more vulnerable,” she said last week.

At an event during a trip to New York last week to attend the UN commission on the status of women, Monsef spoke about how violence still affects the lives of women and girls around the world.

“Over these past four years, we have . . . seen a resurgence of feminism and the growth of a global, grassroots women’s movement,” Monsef said at a side event on how the health sector can respond to gender-based violence, according to a copy of her speaking notes provided by her office.

“But there has been no change in the numbers of women and girls for whom violence is a daily fact of life. Yes, it’s 2017! And every day, countless women and girls still suffer at the hands of men,” she said.

“The roots of gender-based violence are entwined in outdated, patriarchal values and they are tenacious,” she said. “But so are we! As a movement and as allies, we have never been stronger, more connected and better prepared to take on this daunting adversity,” she said.

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