Students pushing N.S. government to create legislation to prevent sexual violence
Published Tuesday, April 18, 2017 8:00PM ADT
Hundreds of students have signed a letter demanding the Nova Scotia government create legislation to prevent sexualized violence on campus.
“This is legislation that students all across the country have been calling for for years,” says Charlotte Kiddell of the Canadian Federation of Students. “It's something that students have won in Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba.”
Kiddell says the federations has sent a letter signed by 650 students and allies to Minister of Labour and Advanced Education Kelly Regan.
The minister is currently refusing to talk about the letter, but Nova Scotia’s official Opposition isn't.
“There has been a lot of talk about it, but there has not been enough action,” said Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie. “We need action that's backed up by the force of law.”
The government did release a statement pointing to the work it has already done in the area.
"Our MOU with universities requires stand-alone sexual violence policies, and specifies that they be renewed every three years through an inclusive process," says Lisa Jarrett, a media relations advisorwith the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.
But Kiddell says the issue is that the document is non-binding.
“It allows no recourse for students if universities violate the terms of the memorandum,” she said.
The students want universities to be required by law to have sexual assault policies, publicly report on sexual assault cases and the success of their initiatives to combat sexual assault.
The Canadian Federation of Students says one in five women studying at a North American post-secondary institute will experience some form of sexual assault, but they say the numbers are actually higher.
“The majority of sexual assaults on campus go unreported because students feel that they will not be believed or supported by their institutions,” said Kiddell.
The group mentions controversies at Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s universities. Both schools refused to comment.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kayla Hounsell.