A new free and confidential legal service has been introduced in British Columbia to assist individuals who have experienced sexual assault. The Community Legal Assistance Society, a not-for-profit organization, has launched the Stand Informed project, providing three hours of legal advice to survivors regardless of age, gender, income, or whether they have reported the assault to the police. The program aims to address the under-reporting of sexual assaults by offering support to an underserved group and helping them understand their legal options.
Jennifer Khor, the supervising lawyer and project manager, highlighted reasons why survivors may not report sexual assault, such as mistrust of the police or lack of familiarity with the legal system. With funding from the federal government, the three-year pilot program was initiated after an increase in calls regarding sexual assaults to a workplace harassment service offered by the organization. Although the project was officially launched on Tuesday, it had a soft launch a few weeks ago and has already started assisting clients.
Khor expressed hope that survivors will come forward and seek their services, although the demand is uncertain. Kelli Paddon, parliamentary secretary for gender equity, emphasized the importance of accessible support for B.C. residents who experience gender-based violence. The program aims to provide survivors of sexual assault with free legal advice during a critical time, making a significant difference for women, girls, and gender diverse individuals across British Columbia.