The BCCLA, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, WAVAW Rape Crisis Center, Atira Women’s Resource Society and the Downtown East Side Women’s Center are writing to urge the courts to address the serious issue of protection orders.
Current COVID-19 prevention measures, including the need for self-isolation and quarantine, have created a dangerous situation for individuals experiencing family violence while simultaneously reducing the availability of resources. Therefore, urgent attention must be given to the impacts of court closures on women, gender diverse individuals and youth experiencing family or intimate partner violence.
As a consequence of the pandemic, the resources that women and gender diverse people look to for protection like transition homes, direct service agencies and police are under greater strain and even less equipped to respond. Women, gender diverse individuals and their children may have no choice but to remain in unsafe homes where transition houses are operating at reduced capacity.
We are highly concerned about the closure of courts across the province and what that means for access to justice and the expiry and accessibility of protection orders. We stress that urgent attention be given to implementing an easy, accessible and safe process for people to apply for and extend Protection Orders without having to attend a courthouse.