A few days ago, a $.2.8 million pilot project aiming to provide free legal consultations to survivors of sexual assault was launched in Toronto.
The project was influenced in great part by the Jian Ghomeshi case from earlier this year, and is being implemented as a possible improvement to the justice system as it pertains to cases of sexual assault.
Yasir Naqvi, the Ottawa MPP who is spearheading the initiative, stated that "sexual assault survivors need to know they have choices and they have power,” and that "providing them with information on support services that are available is only one piece."
Survivors of sexual assault aged 16 years old and up can get up to 4 hours of free legal, confidential consultations with a lawyer in the Toronto, Ottawa and Thunder Bay areas. To avail of the service, they would need to submit an "Independent Legal Advice Pilot Program Voucher Request" form which can be downloaded from the Ontario government website.
A week or so after its launch, the project is already receiving a bit of criticism, with people concerned that the service may work against the prosecution of predators in a legal showdown.
Nevertheless, any light shed on the sexual assault is a helpful baby step forward. The more we bring sexual assault out of the dark and into our conversations, the more we can bring about positive change to the issue.
The project will continue to run on a trail basis until March 0f 2018.
Follow us on Snapchat: narcitytoronto