Coralee Oakes took to legislature with a plan on International Women’s Day
The Cariboo North MLA and Advanced Education Critic took to the virtual stage to call on the ruling government to renew funding to prevent sexualized violence on B.C. campuses. She made a private members statement to the legislature.
”Every student has a right to an education environment that is free from sexualized violence,” Oakes said. “Sadly we know that it happens all too often, and with devastating effects on the victim’s emotional, psychological and physical well being.”
Oakes cited a Stats Canada study which showed 71 per cent of students witnessed unwanted sexual behaviours in post-secondary, and 15 per cent of women were sexually assaulted during their post-secondary career.
“The numbers are staggering,” Oakes said. “We know many victims are too fearful to come forward, so those numbers may not tell the whole story.”
Even with the COVID-19 pandemic moving learning away from campuses, students are still feeling the effects of violence.
“Social distancing and quarantine orders limit opportunities for those experiencing domestic violence to access support, leaving many people trapped with their abusers,” Oakes said. “The numbers are staggering.”
Oakes called on the ruling NDP government to continue to provide resources to help stop sexual violence, noting a over $700,000 annual fund is set to expire this year. She also asked the government to adopt suggestions from the Alliance of B.C. students around consent culture.
“As a society, we have work to do to change our attitudes about unwanted sexual behaviour and consent, so that more victims feel safe to come forward, so they will fell that they will be believed,” Oakes said. “The government needs to recognize that most sexualized violence, prevention and response education is designed to be delivered in person. Smaller institutions do not have the capacity to develop these programs themselves.”
Oakes opened her statement by praising local organizations for their work in preventing sexualized violence, including Amata Transition House.
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