KCA’s Latest Gender-Based Violence Webinar Tackles the Difficulties of Navigating the Legal and Justice System for Victims and Survivors
Toronto, Canada – Monday, September 27, 2021
Kenyan Canadian Association (KCA) hosted it’s third webinar on September 25th, 2021, aimed at addressing Gender-Based Violence (GBV). The event was part of a high-impact webinar series supported by funds from the Government of Canada through the Canadian Women’s Foundation, Safer + Stronger COVID-19 Emergency Grant.
In hopes of providing access to information and resources to strengthen survivor’s rights, the KCA hosted a group of expert panelists who engaged an audience online through Zoom, Facebook and YouTube. Panelists shared grim facts about the many barriers faced by victims and survivors of GBV as they navigate what can often be a long and arduous path to justice.
Hosted by Fatma Nadhir, KCA’s Social Economic Empowerment Director, with introductory remarks from Sanjit Kaur, KCA’s Women and Gender Affairs Director. The webinar’s dynamic and knowledgeable panel line-up included: Genesis Bowen, Social Service Worker, Kenyan Canadian Association; Allison Kilgour, Advocacy Coordinator, Students for Consent Culture; Kavita Bissoondial, Consultant, Shoreline Collaboratives; and Erin Stewart, Outreach Coordinator, Victim Services Unit of Halton Regional Police Service
To set the framework for the day’s discussion, KCA’s Genesis Bowen provided an overview of the challenges survivors of Gender-Based Violence face while trying to access legal support. She informed the audience of the many barriers within Canada’s legal system that prevents survivors from getting the support or justice they require. She named victim blaming, secondary victimization, stereotyping, and discrimination among the many road blocks to justice.
“[Discrimination] is a really, really, big challenge because it sends a wrong and negative message to individuals who are looking to engage in the legal system and instead of steering them towards the direction of using the legal system, it steers them against it which is unfortunate. You want people to be able to access services and feel like they’re welcomed and believed.”
Next, Allison Kilgour, an Advocacy Coordinator from Students for Consent Culture shed light on the prevalence of rape, sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence currently impacting students in post-secondary institutions. She cited statistics that conveyed the bleak reality that affects many student’s in Canada, particularly students who identify as women of colour or new immigrants.
“Women of colour and immigrant populations are at an even higher risk of experiencing violence in post-secondary, specifically on-campus settings and off. Frankly, women of colour generally have their experience taken less seriously when they report to the police or to other levels of the criminal justice system.”
Kavita Bissoondial, Consultant, Shoreline Collaboratives, touched on LGBTQ+ issues with a focus on some of the differences and similarities transgender individuals face when trying to access the legal and justice system after they have experienced gender-based violence. She highlighted the importance understanding and inclusivity, as well as provided information on legal resources catered to supporting LGBTQ+ survivors.
To conclude, Erin Stewart, an Outreach Coordinator with the Victim Services Unit of Halton Regional Police Service spoke about her organization’s work to support people who have experienced gender-based violence, specifically after the police have already been contacted. She stressed the need for understanding in situations where charges have yet to be laid, doesn’t mean abuse or violence has not occurred. She noted that Victim Services Units often work to connect victims with community supports to help them out of dangerous situations as well as make sure that survivors are aware of their rights, the laws, the policies, and the procedures that may be involved when making disclosures to police regarding rape, sexual assault, intimate partner violence and other forms of gender-based violence.
The webinar provided an informative space to discuss GBV, acknowledged the barriers that prevent people from accessing legal assistance, and most importantly, directed participants to resources and let them know, there are options available for legal help and justice.
Join us for future webinars in this series:
Webinar 4: Gender-Based Violence and the Media - October 16th, 2021
Webinar 5: Gender Equality & UN Women HeForShe - November 6th, 2021
We have also listed some of the resources shared in the webinar:
- Victim Services, Halton Regional Police Phone: 905-825-4777
The Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST) Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST) crisis line: 1-877-825-9011
- Assaulted Women’s Help Line: 416-863-0511
- Indus Community Services - Family Court Support Services www.induscs.ca/family-court-support-services
- Luke’s Place: www.lukesplace.ca
- Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic: www.schliferclinic.com/legal-services
- Student’s for Consent Culture: www.sfcccanada.org
- MOSAIC Multicultural Victim Services After-hours contact: 1-800-563-0808
- The 519 Access to Justice and Legal Initiatives programs for LGBTQ+: www.the519.org/programs/access-to-justice
- The Network/La Red’s 24-hour hotline LGBTQ+: 1-800-832-1901 (Toll-Free)
Kenyan Canadian Association - KCA is a federal not-for-profit organization that seeks to address the issues affecting Black, other racialized communities and marginalized groups in Canada while assisting newcomers to settle and make a positive contribution in the society as they endeavour to achieve their goal.