MB Government: Province Announces Initiatives in Support of Sexual Assault Awareness Month
April 1, 2020
Manitoba Government Partnering with Community to Develop Awareness Campaign on Non-Consensual Distribution of Intimate Images: Minister
The Manitoba government is introducing new online resources and supports for victims as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Cathy Cox, minister responsible for status of women, announced today.
“Sexual violence and sexual assault is traumatic and has severe, long-lasting effects for survivors,” said Cox. “We are committed to ensuring greater supports using all available technologies, such as online, which are more important than ever given the global health situation and the need for Manitobans to stay at home to help flatten the curve.”
The province will work in partnership with community experts, including the Shameless Circle and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, to develop public awareness material about the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, the minister said.
“During these unprecedented times and higher than usual online connectivity, it is essential that we work together to educate the public on the harm and ongoing trauma associated with the sharing of intimate images,” said Signy Arnason, associate executive director, Canadian Centre for Child Protection. “As the designated agency to receive and respond to victims impacted by the non-consensual distribution of an intimate image, we are pleased to be working with the province of Manitoba on this important awareness campaign.”
The Shameless Circle is a volunteer-led healing circle for women aiming to end stigma around women standing up for themselves and their children.
“Education and awareness is key when it comes to internet safety, for kids and adults alike. This is why the Shameless Circle team of volunteers are working so hard to combat this particular issue of non consensual distribution of intimate images – this is an important issue that needs to be addressed at all fronts,” Sara Usman, co-founder of the Shameless Circle. “We look forward to partnering with the Manitoba government on this important initiative.”
Cox noted the province has also partnered with Ka Ni Kanichihk to develop a brochure about third-party reporting, which will be available on www.gov.mb.ca/youarenotalone/ in the coming months. Third-party reporting offers adult survivors the option of reporting the details of their cases anonymously to the RCMP or Winnipeg Police Service through a third-party, community-based victim support agency, if they are not ready to participate in a police investigation or become involved in court proceedings.
In cases that do proceed to court, Manitoba Justice will be launching new testimonial aids for victims, including ‘soft’ rooms with video-conferencing technology that enable remote testimony, the minister said. These spaces are designed to provide a comfortable, safe environment to testify, which can protect victims against some of the traumatizing impacts of the court process. They will be located in several Manitoba Justice Victim Services’ offices around the province.
The province will use social media to share information about available supports and resources throughout the month of April, and Manitobans can participate in the discussion using the hashtags #SAAM2020, #SupportSurvivors and #YouAreNotAlone.
In addition, the Manitoba government’s You Are Not Alone webpage is updated regularly and Manitobans are encouraged to go to www.gov.mb.ca/youarenotalone/ for more information on available supports, health information, police information and information on consent.
If you are in need of support, the Sexual Assault Crisis Line can be reached at 204-786-8631 and (toll-free) in Manitoba at 1-888-292-7565.
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For more information:
- Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.
- Media requests for general information, contact Communications Services Manitoba: 204-945-3765.
- Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-945-4916.