Ottawa eyeing new expert committee to combat sexual violence

Thirty years after the École Polytechnique massacre, statistics show that on average, one woman is killed every other day in Canada, and one in three will experience sexual violence in their life. As part of Global's online series 'Living in Colour,' Farah Nasser sat down with survivors to talk about the cultural barriers and stigma around talking about sexual violence.

Canadian Members of Parliament unanimously backed a motion on Tuesday to condemn sexual violence and create an expert committee tasked with exploring ways to help victims.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh put forward the motion in the House of Commons that asked fellow parliamentarians to acknowledge the courage of victims and the worries of so many who “rightly fear that they will not be believed” or “that they will be intimidated, persecuted or let down.”

It also called on the federal government to set up an expert committee “to review and develop measures to benefit victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, and to restore their confidence in the judicial and extrajudicial system.”

READ MORE: Bloc Québécois’ Yves-François Blanchet denies sexual assault allegations dating back to 1999

That motion got support from all parties in the House of Commons and comes as Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet has repeatedly refused to answer questions from journalists in recent days about allegations of sexual misconduct dating back decades.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also faced allegations in 2018 of having groped a female reporter at a music festival roughly 20 years ago.

READ MORE: Ex-B.C. reporter behind Trudeau groping allegation speaks out, says apology came 1 day later

Both the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP have seen members of their caucuses accused of inappropriate sexual conduct in recent years amid a broader cultural reckoning over systemic sexual discrimination and workplace harassment in a range of professional fields.

According to Statistics Canada, one in three Canadian women will experience unwanted sexual behaviour, most frequently unwanted sexual attention and unwanted sexual touching.

However, it’s not clear when the expert committee could be formally created as the coronavirus pandemic continues to dominate the government’s focus.

Global News has reached out to the government requesting more details and this story will be updated with any response received.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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