A spokesperson for Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter wants to see the funding woes of rape crisis centres become a major issue in this year’s federal election.
In B.C., Hilla Kerner told the Georgia Straight, no level of government provides core funding for these “crucial services”, which she called the “most effective tool to help women get free from men”.
“There is much more interest in capitalism, increasing the wealth of the rich, pipelines, [and] environmental degradation than women’s lives,” Kerner said by phone about Canadian politics.
Next Sunday (May 31), the 2015 Walk for Rape Relief will raise money for the nonprofit society. The walk will begin at Stanley Park’s Ceperley Meadow near Second Beach at 10:30 a.m. and end with a free picnic and live music.
Kerner said she expects about 200 people to attend this year’s edition of the annual fundraiser, which has taken place since 1979. She noted donations allow the society to operate a rape crisis centre and transition house, provide other services to women dealing with male violence, and carry out feminist advocacy work.
Rape Relief is one of more than 150 women’s and other groups that are urging federal party leaders to commit to a nationally broadcast election debate on issues of women’s equality. Kerner called for the criminal-justice system to be more responsive to violence against women and for provincial governments to alleviate women’s poverty by increasing welfare rates.
“We’re in a really, really bad time in terms of the federal and provincial governments’ treatment of women,” Kerner said.
Since the start of the year, Kerner noted, five women have been killed by their husbands in B.C.
“People need to know violence against women is real and very frequent,” Kerner said. “The government and the social services are completely inadequate. There is a vacuum that only women’s groups and women’s services can fill.”