VANCOUVER - For the fifth year in a row, the women's legal advocacy group West Coast LEAF has handed British Columbia a failing grade for its treatment of women.
The grades are contained in LEAF's annual assessment of how well B.C. measures up to international standards for women's equality, as established by the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
According to LEAF, the province once again gets an "F" for its commitment to a woman's right to access to justice and social assistance, for the handling of poverty issues and in the cases of missing and murdered aboriginal girls and women.
Passage of B.C.'s New Family Law Act helped net the province its highest grade, a B-, because the group says the Act makes strides in dealing with violence against women.
West Coast LEAF legal director Laura Track says it's important to recognize that all the issues are interconnected, noting that a battered woman may now have access to tougher legislation under the Family Law Act, but she's unlikely leave a dangerous situation if lack of funding means there's no safe shelter to accept her.
Track says until the B.C. government makes it a priority to ensure women are from free from violence, poverty, and discrimination, and it invests sufficient resources to tackle these problems, LEAF's assessment of the province's commitment to women's rights will remain low.
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