The Manitoba government is applauding efforts to introduce third-party reporting in the province. Justice Minister Heather Stefanson and Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires, minister responsible for the status of women, attended an announcement Monday morning where police and partners unveiled the concept to support survivors of sexual assault.
The Winnipeg Police Service and RCMP, in partnership with Klinic Community Health Centre, Heart Medicine Lodge (Ka Ni Kanichihk) and Sage House (Mount Carmel Clinic), announced a new protocol in Manitoba for survivors of sexual abuse. Third-party reporting offers adult survivors the option of reporting the details of their case anonymously to the WPS or RCMP through a third-party, community-based victim services agency, if they are not ready to participate in a police investigation or become involved in court proceedings.
“I want to thank the community agencies, the Winnipeg Police Service and the RCMP for the strong leadership being demonstrated to support sexual violence survivors,” said Squires, a long-time advocate for third-party reporting who raised the issue at a 2017 federal-provincial-territorial meeting for Canada’s status of women ministers. “It is gratifying to now see this process unfolding in Manitoba. We know that survivors of sexual violence need support in sharing their stories and having their voices heard.”
The minister noted that statistics show less than five per cent of individuals report an experience of sexual assault and this initiative will help address the issue of under-reporting by removing some barriers. Police will receive information filed through third-party reporting but the survivor’s identity will not be disclosed.
“We appreciate that for a variety of reasons, it can be difficult for survivors to come forward,” said Stefanson. “While survivors will always be able to come forward to police, third-party reporting will serve as another avenue. Those who work with survivors of sexual assault, including Manitoba Justice Victim Services workers across the province, can help connect people to this option and assist with the process as needed.”
The ministers noted third-party reporting is currently in place in British Columbia, Yukon and parts of Ontario.
The province continues to recognize April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It launched a new online resource at www.gov.mb.ca/youarenotalone called You Have Options: Help After Sexual Assault that offers information how to recognize sexual assault, understand the criminal justice system, explore options to make a report, and find counselling, support and healing.
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