The justice system in Labrador is failing women in cases of violence, says the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
In a letter to TC Media, Mary Pia Benuen of Sheshatshiu, and Linda Ross, president/CEO of the council, said the situation has reached a critical point for women in Labrador, particularly those who are aboriginal.
“We have heard of multiple reports of offenders who are being granted judicial interim release at contested bail hearings, despite histories of serious violence against women. Simply put, this means violent individuals, who have documented records of serious and repeated assaults, stalking and threats against their partners, are once again being released into the community, putting women at risk of further injury or death,” the letter stated.
“Our primary concern is for the victims and their children, and we call on the judiciary to acknowledge the complexities of domestic violence when determining the outcome of matters before them.”
Benuen told TC Media the council met with the Justice department last month, but didn’t get a clear indication their concerns will be addressed.
“It’s the judiciary, plus corrections and probations,” Benuen said.
“We find the justice system is too lenient on the offenders. … These men are doing serious crimes, are locked up for a few months a year and let back into the community where the offence happened.
“Women are scared.”
She said there have been times when men have violated orders to stay away from communities and there is no warning for their victims.
Benuen said the offenders are not getting adequate treatment while they are incarcerated, nor are the victim services and protection for women from their abusers adequate.
“There is so much violence against women, this needs attention right now, she said.
“This is not just an aboriginal concern. It is about every woman out there who has been violated by men. Sometimes I find the offenders don’t get as much as a slap on the wrist. There is not enough punishment.”