“Dream Team” Focusing On Eliminating Violence In Relationships


By Acharya S.P.Dwivedi

NEVR, Media Committee

Although the domestic violence has been in existence since the beginning of civilization but in last two decades it has taken a quantum jump in its awareness. Recently, some social activists such as Prof. Balbir Gurm, Maryam Majedi and Pradeep Sahota started consolidating their efforts and formed with other service providers a “Dream Team” to focus not on the theoretical but on practical plan to bring positive changes in the community.  Gary Thandi from the Justice Institute joined it later. The Dream Team began to grow from four 4 to 30 members by the time the study proposal was completed; and it has continued to expand from 30 members to 80 members representing 30 organizations.

In its brain storming session the name of the group was finalized —Networking to Eliminate Violence in Relationships (NEVR). In its first meeting in May 2011 members opted for creating a plan to address the issue of domestic abuse in Surrey. The aim of NEVR is to intervene, reduce and ultimately eliminate violence in relationships in BC through creating awareness and coordinating open, seamless service delivery to support victims/offenders.

On November 1, 2012 NEVR organized a Conference at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey and about 150 representatives and leaders of several organizations took part in it. Dr. Alan Davis, President of Kwantlen University welcomed the

guests. He proudly announced that it is a largest new teaching university in Canada which enhances social, cultural and community awareness and produces a lot of research on it.

Maryam Majedi gave the exact figures about the domestic related violent incidents— 519 incidents reported, 84 were not charged, 128 convicted and 45 got 1 or more days prison. She felt that still a large number of incidents are not left unreported. The safety, dignity and sanctity of women are to be restored and for these social workers, peace officers, judges, political, faith and community leaders have to work together to stopping the domestic abuse.

“Domestic violence knows no ethnic, cultural race or faith boundaries and it is being perpetuated by people who have problems of addiction, outdated traditions and belief systems” commented Justice Gurmail Gill in his speech. He felt that the role of Court is to provide fast, less expensive and efficient services and to achieve it more Special Courts are to be created; civil and criminal procedures have to be make easy one and services are to be enhanced. He further said, “An excess delay is also caused in delivery of justice because of unavailability and accountability of witnesses”.

Goeffrey Cowper, Chair of BC Justice Reform Initiative based his arguments on the Kelowna Pilot Project. “We need an incredible diversity of psychological, cultural, economical, ethical and legal experts, said Goeffrey Cowper, to handle the quite complex issue of domestic violence”. He also suggested—

(A) In court Priority should be given to domestic violence case.

(B) Delay in court decision is to be curtailed.

(C) Child custody should be within 60 days.

(D) Urban Myth –line up in cases is to be avoided.

(E) A website is to be developed where people can have all information regarding procedures, rights and laws.

Cory Heavener, BC Office of Domestic Violence gave the outlines of holistic approach of Government’s Three Year Plan:

1. Safety is paramount        2. Listening the voices of victims

3. Partnership with all         4. Engagement and consultation

5. Collaboration with other organization 6. Information sharing

7. Service and support funding

Government report has come on domestic violence on September 10, 2012 that highlights its commitment for social, public and education policy. Cory informed that 3500 people are service givers and 520 supervisors in BC and New Family Laws will be implemented in march18, 2013 to provide better and fast services.

Simon Thomson, Crown Counsel Abbotsford described the challenges which are faced in prosecuting domestic violence. He and his friend, with bar background, try to help in smoothening the process.  He pointed out:

1. All the segments working for the domestic violence should work together. 2. There should be continuity of the Govt. representative.

3. Need consistent-Crown team 4. We need Government +Community partnership in handling the domestic violence.

At the end of the conference, a Round Table Discussion was carried by the attendees who brought out their stories and experiences on domestic violence. This personal touch gave a distinctive flavour for the success of the Conference.