Domestic Violence in Canada – Federal Laws and The Rights of Women
Canada is a recognized leader in the development and implementation of policies to its domestic violence. The goverment of the country is well known for her federal and regional laws, as well as local social programs aimed at combating these domestic violence and sexual assault.
The country has been studying the problem of violence against women for more than twenty years. A large-scale nationwide survey, Canada’s Violence Against Women Survey, undertaken in 1991-1993, sought to collect the data needed to understand the nature and extent of this phenomenon. Phone interviews were used: the trial included 123,000 women, among whom 25% aged 18 and over had experienced various forms of violence in their marital life especially dv sex.
Domestic violence results in significant medical costs. The World Bank, in its 1993 World Development Report, notes that “in industrialized countries, rape and domestic violence takes almost a year out of every five healthy life years for women in the 15 to 44 age group.” It also states that, on a per capita basis, the health damage caused to women of reproductive age by domestic violence is roughly the same in both developed and developing countries.
In Canada, according to the Vancouver Violence Research Center, women displaced by attacks lose $ 7 million in earnings each year. The social security system spends $ 1.8 million a year to support women who have been forced to end their family or partnerships due to domestic violence and indesire to undergo treatment.
Experts estimate that Canada spends $ 4.2 billion a year to cover health care costs and lost work time related to sexual violence and other forms of violence against women and girls.
Federal funding for the prevention of violence against women
In 1997/1998 federal funding for domestic violence prevention totaled $ 30.7 million, which goes towards direct funding for shelter maintenance and domestic violence prevention projects. This amount includes additional funding of $ 7 million to support the seven ministries involved in the fight against violence, coordinate their efforts and operate the National Domestic Violence Clearinghouse.
This activity testifies to a new stage in the development of state policy to suppress domestic violence. Today, domestic violence is integrated into the ongoing programs of many government departments, such as the Department of Health, the Department of Real Estate and Construction, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Department of Justice, the Department of Heritage, the Department of Women’s Affairs, Statistics Canada, and a number of projects and programs are being developed by the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, etc.
Particular attention is paid to the issues of medical assistance to victims of abuse in family relationships. Health Canada, in collaboration with medical schools, physician and nursing associations, has organized courses and training workshops for medical staff working with survivors of domestic violence. The special study “Health and violence against women” has revealed the depth and seriousness of the consequences of violence for the physical and mental health of victims. At the direction of the Ministry, rules of conduct for doctors were also developed and a guide was issued for nurses who provide assistance to victims of domestic violence.
The General Prosecutor’s Office and the Ministry of Justice were also involved in the implementation of the program. Within its framework, it was envisaged for police officers to undergo special training to work with survivors of violence. After all, Canadian women often complain about the rudeness and tactlessness of law enforcement officials. Police officers received instructions and information materials to help victims of violence. Canadian lawyers have prepared a special guide for social workers who support victims of domestic violence.
In addition, amendments to the existing legislation have been submitted to Parliament for consideration to toughen the rules for early or conditional release from imprisonment for perpetrators of violence. Other proposed modifications are intended to facilitate the process of a woman’s testimony in court and free her from many humiliating formalities.
The area of criminal justice in Canada is the purview of the federal and provincial governments. The federal government is responsible for criminal law and the provincial government is responsible for the administration of justice. Accordingly, both levels of government must work closely together.
Since 1994, the federal government has made amendments to the Criminal Code, providing for a system of measures to ensure the protection of women and children from violent abuse and actions against them.
A man who raped his wife or sexually abused her, even if they were living separately at that time, was prosecuted only if the woman was injured as a result of the violence until 1983.
In 1983, the Rape Act was reformed. The goal of the reform was to bring the rule of law into line with changes in the interpretation of rape as a criminal offense.
Bill C-127, which became part of the Criminal Code, provided for the removal of rape from the part “Sexual offenses, violations of public morality and public order” and the transfer of this type of offense to the part “Offenses against the person and reputation.” Three new definitions of offenses were introduced:
- simple sexual assault;
- sexual assault resulting in bodily harm through the use of weapons or other means;
- aggravated sexual assault.
This bill abolished one of the most sexist and outdated aspects of Canadian criminal law, which was based on the belief that sexual assault cannot take place in a relationship between spouses. In other words, marital rape was a criminal offense.