The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice
The Honourable Patricia Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women
With the launch of the long-awaited national inquiry to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, we urge you to take immediate, concrete and effective actions to stop violence against Indigenous women:
1. Direct police units all over Canada to respond immediately to any complaint about male violence against Indigenous women and girls. All reports of wife battering, rape and sexual assault of women and children must be treated seriously and diligently with thorough investigation and clear intention of arrest and laying appropriate charges.
2. Instruct crown prosecutors to stop diverting, dropping or staying charges. No man should get away with committing violence against women. Non-Indigenous men and Indigenous men alike, should face court judgement. Holding violent men accountable is not only crucial to stop those men but it’s a preventive measure because it will we have a deterring effect on other men.
3. Provide livable income for women. Welfare rates everywhere in the country are unlivable and doom many Indigenous women to dire poverty. Women’s poverty is a key factor of their vulnerability to men’s violence. Ending women’s poverty is a simple achievable reform. Do it now.
4. Abolish prostitution. The oppression and dispossession of Indigenous women make them particularly vulnerable to prostitution. Enforce the new prostitution laws that criminalize men who pimp and buy women in prostitution and fund exiting, detox and recovery programs available to women on demand.
5. Fund independent, women-controlled transition houses, rape crisis centres and women’s centres in every community, including and in particular in remote and isolated areas. Women’s services are the most effective proven method to provide women immediate safety when they escape violent men. They should be available to any woman, anywhere, anytime.
Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter is the oldest rape crisis centre in Canada and unique in operating both a rape crisis centre and transition house, responding to the entire spectrum of violence: battery, rape, incest, trafficking and prostitution. We are committed to the safety, equality and liberty of all women. We are happy to offer you our knowledge, experience and expertise as you carve the path to end male violence against Indigenous women and girls.
Hilla Kerner, for the collective of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter