Women in Downtown Eastside speak out against “systemic violence”

WATCH ABOVE: Nearly half of the women surveyed by the DTES Women’s Coalition say they’ve been victims of violence in the last two years. Grace Ke reports.

It’s been three years since a series of sexual assaults were reported at a co-ed shelter in the Downtown Eastside.

It sparked government and police to increase safety resources – but today, the DTES Women’s Coalition issued a reporting arguing more needs to be done.

“We are dealing with an epidemic level of violence against women,” said Angela Marie MacDougall of Battered Women’s Support Services.

“Women are not reporting, police continue to not be a resource, services continue not to be safe.”

The DTES Women’s Coalition released “Getting to the Roots: Exploring Systemic Violence Against Women in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver”, a report based on survey and forums with over 150 women in the neighbourhood.

Story continues below advertisement

In the report, 48 per cent of women said they had been the victims of violence in the last two years, and 23 per cent say they deal with violence in silence – unwilling to report to police.

“We discovered a continuation of the apathy and unwillingness of community organizations, of government, and law enforcement of addressing the violence,” said MacDougall.

“So many co-ed facilities are funded to provide services to both men and women but do not commit 40% of their work to providing safety for women. This has to change now.” said Alice Kendall of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre in a statement.

Some of the suggestions from the report (which you can read here) include offering cultural safety training to service providers, increasing the number of common spaces in residential buildings and hiring more indigenous staff.

– With files from Grace Ke

Sponsored content