CALGARY, AB: Supporting survivors of sexual assault through strengthening the policies surrounding the time from when a survivor comes forward after being sexually assaulted to before their case goes to trial is the focus of a new report entitled Standing with Survivors, released today by the Wildrose Official Opposition.
The recommendations are:
- Studying the possibility of legislating “third choice” or “third option” time frames for the secure storage of sexual assault evidence
- Advocating for a tele-health link that is staffed around the clock by a designated Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (S.A.N.E.) who would provide immediate support and guidance for health care professionals administering a sexual assault exam, allowing survivors the choice of remaining in their community
- Reporting on the current capabilities of all police detachments in Alberta to ensure they are equipped to handle and store sexual assault evidence kits
- Considering the legislation or regulation of written checklists with clear procedural expectations of immediate sexual assault services for all communities in Alberta, including rural and remote areas, and;
- Developing legislation pertaining to the collection of evidence following a sexual assault of an unconscious survivor or a survivor incapable of providing consent due to mental incapacity.
“These common sense recommendations are the result of listening to stakeholders and sex assault survivors who have seen gaps in our current system,” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said. “Survivors need to know that we believe them, and they need to have the ability to be as supported as possible from the time of their assault to the time a trial may begin.”
A repeated concern in developing the report was the discrepancy in resources available between Alberta’s major cities, and rural or remote communities.
“Utilizing technology and better coordination of resources would ensure that Albertans not in major centres receive the resources needed to lead to a conviction whenever possible,” Wildrose Shadow Justice Minister Angela Pitt said. “We want survivors to feel empowered, and to know that when they come forward to a health professional or law enforcement officer, that they will be treated respectfully and in a way that evidence will be properly collected and stored.”
When putting forward the common sense recommendations in the Standing with Survivorsreport, there was a recognition that sexual assault survivors are going through one of the most challenging experiences of their lives, and do not need to face additional barriers that can add further stigmatization.
“We need to empower the brave survivors who come forward following a sexual assault, and reassure them that they are not alone, and that they are believed,” Wildrose Shadow Status of Women Minister Leela Aheer said. “We trust that the NDP government will carefully consider these recommendations that should be above partisanship – they are about creating a better society.”
Audio of the press conference is available here.