Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Premier says action is needed to address violence against women

There are women living in fear in Saskatchewan, not knowing if they are safe, and too scared to make a move.
Statistics Canada’s new numbers show the province has double the national average of violent crimes against women.
Over 11,000 women in Saskatchewan reported being the victim of violent crime in 2011.
At Isabel Johnson Shelter, the rooms are rarely empty. They run a waitlist for women and children escaping violent situations.
“Ideally, you work yourself out of a job and the demand goes down, but that hasn’t been our experience,” said Amy Stensrud, housing director for YWCA Regina.
The increase in numbers shocks many, but not people like Stensrud, who specialize in abuse counseling.
She says the booming population puts pressure on families.
“If you don’t have any choices in regards to housing you’re less likely to leave, and if you do leave you’re more likely to enter a dangerous situation,” she said.
Poverty levels are also rising with the population. More people are turning to food banks, and social assistance.
“I think that causes stress on relationships,” said Stensrud. “While that’s not the only factor at play in a violent relationship, it certainly doesn’t help.”
“I hope this number is cold water for all of us,” said Premier Brad Wall.
It was sobering news for the Premier, who promised a new approach to address what he called the government’s failure.
“I think you’re going to see in this budget a government that recognizes the lack of expansion in those services for well over a decade,” he said.
Certainly just throwing money at more shelter space wouldn’t sit well for Regina Family Service’s staff.
Jen Renwick is the Senior Domestic Violence Worker. She’s frustrated by that lack of commitment.
“We have programs for abusers that are being cut,” she said. “{The program was for} men who are seeking help, particularly low-risk men, and that’s where we need to focus programming. If people are getting programming before violence escalates that can make a significant impact.”
She says prevention is key.
Violence affects many aspects of society, much more than just the immediate victims.
“When the police are coming, lights and sirens, to the house next door suddenly things don’t seem as safe,” said Renwick.
Further, it’s happening in every neighbourhood, making it more normalized.
And since kids learn what they see, unfortunately the cycle of violence just gets harder to solve.
“It compounds,” said Stensrud. “It makes it much more difficult to address because it becomes more and more complex with each passing generation.”


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