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DAWN-RAFH Canada launches multi-year initiative to address Violence Against Women with Disabilities and Deaf Women

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 25, 2015 (Montreal) - DAWN-RAFH Canada is pleased to announce the launch of “Legislation, Policy and Service Responses to Violence Against Women with Disabilities and Deaf Women”, a multi-year initiative which will examine and address the gaps in policy and service provision that contribute to the high levels of violence against this group of women.

Despite the fact that the Canadian Criminal Code and numerous human rights instruments prohibit violence against women, data released this week by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics in a report* (copy enclosed) on Criminal Victimization in Canada revealed that sexual assault remains the only crime in Canada for which there has been no decline. This reinforces what women’s organizations already know: that women, particularly Indigenous women AND particularly women with disabilities, AND women who are homeless, AND women who have experienced childhood abuse are the most frequent victims. DAWN-RAFH Canada’s newest initiative seeks to respond to the alarming rates of violence experienced by women with disabilities and Deaf women.

Through DAWN-RAFH Canada’s on-going community development work, we know that when women with disabilities try to access violence prevention services, they face another level of abuse, or secondary systemic violence, due to a lack of capacity on the part of service providers to respond to their particular needs. This initiative seeks to bridge the gap between policy and service delivery by providing women with disabilities with an opportunity to propose responses directly to policy makers and service providers. According to Bonnie Brayton, DAWN-RAFH Canada’s National Executive Director, “the only possible response to the women who face violence in Canada today is a going to be a national strategy that is intersectional, that is based on the social determinants of health and is linked to women’s equality.”

The “Legislation, Policy, and Service Responses” initiative, funded through Status of Women Canada, will initially be implemented in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. Along with identifying policy and service gaps, regional working groups in each province will also document examples of best practice in the police, victim services and violence against women sectors and determine steps for duplicating these in other municipalities or regions. Brayton says she is pleased with the Federal government decision to proceed with a national strategy and action plan on violence against women. “We need to move beyond toolkits and project funding and to link a national strategy to the work that many women’s organizations are already doing,” she said.

The DisAbled Women’s Network (DAWN-RAFH) Canada is a national, feminist, cross-disability organization whose mission is to end the poverty, isolation, discrimination and violence experienced by Canadian women with disabilities and Deaf women. Our overarching strategic approach is one of leadership, partnership and networking to engage all levels of government and the wider disability and women’s sectors and other stakeholders in addressing our key issues. *Report of Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics – Statistics Canada:


Contact: Hanane Khales Communications Coordinator, DisAbled Women's Network (DAWN) Canada Toll free: 1-866-396-0074 Téléphone: (514) 396-0009 EXT. 2505 Fax: (514) 396-6585


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