Press release: Avalon Sexual Assault Centre commends Crown’s decision to appeal the Bassam Al-Rawi acquittal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Avalon Sexual Assault Centre commends Crown’s decision to appeal the Bassam Al-Rawi acquittal

 

Halifax, N.S. –

 

Avalon commends PPS on their decision to appeal Judge Gregory Lenehan’s March 1, 2017 decision to acquit a Halifax taxi driver of sexually assaulting an intoxicated passenger found partly naked and unconscious in the back of his cab.  This case demonstrates the need to clarify further the law of consent in the context of intoxication. Avalon is committed to continuing to engage with the public and legal system participants on this issue.

 

Avalon also calls for more community supports for victims of sexualized violence/abuse. Victims of sexual violence rarely see their perpetrators held accountable by the justice system. Over a 10-year period (2005-2014) in HRM, only 7% of all sexual assaults reported to police by adults received a conviction. http://avaloncentre.ca/sane-program-evaluation-report/.

 

“We need to address the laws, policies, and other systemic barriers that continue to fail victims of sexual assault,” says Jackie Stevens, executive director of Avalon Sexual Assault Centre. “We also need to make sure that supports and services are easily accessible for victims.”

 

High-profile cases, no matter the outcome in the justice system, lead to more people coming forward to share their stories, and to access services and supports. Over the past 20 years, Avalon therapists have provided over 28,000 therapeutic counseling sessions to over 6,000 clients.

 

“Victims need to see perpetrators successfully prosecuted, but they also need ongoing access to services and supports,” says Stevens. “We need to change the legal system while also supporting victims through access to counselling and other resources.”   Work is underway to support sexual assault services in Nova Scotia. The Provincial Sexual Violence Strategy has provided increased short-term funding for sexual assault services. However, long term sustainable funding is needed to meet the growing demand for services in our province.

 

“Government has an important role in ensuring that victims have access to resources but the work doesn’t stop there,” says Stevens. “Community members, businesses, and legal professionals all have a critical role to play in supporting victims of sexual assault.”

 

Avalon relies on government funding and community support to provide a full spectrum of sexual assault programs and services. To support victims/survivors of sexualized violence and abuse, visit http://avaloncentre.ca/donate/

-30-

Avalon Sexual Assault Centre is a non-profit feminist organization working to eliminate sexual assault/abuse, and to change the current socio-political culture that fosters sexism, social injustice and other forms of oppression.

Contact:

Jackie Stevens

Executive Director

Avalon Sexual Assault Centre, Halifax, NS

902-422-4240

executivedirector@avaloncentre.ca