10/03/2018 18:08 EDT | Updated 10/03/2018 18:08 EDT

N.L. Considering Proposal That Would Allow Sexual Assault Victims To Report Anonymously

It's part of a new initiative designed to protect victims.

Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women via The Canadian Press
Members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women are shown during a meeting. The province is considering allowing sexual assault victims to anonymously report attacks.

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Sexual assault victims may soon be able to report attacks anonymously to police through third parties in Newfoundland and Labrador — part of a growing trend among provinces trying to find ways of protecting victims.

The province's Committee on Violence Against Women and Girls is leading the development of a project that would allow complainants to share and document their story without the pressure of filing an official police report.

A designated third party, like a women's centre, would keep the victim's information and provide local police with anonymous details of the assault, so law enforcement can take note of possible patterns and alleged offenders.

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Police can approach a group if a problematic trend appears, so victims have the option to come forward knowing law enforcement is already interested in hearing their story.

Similar programs exist in Yukon, Manitoba and British Columbia — where the violent serial crimes of Donald Bakker, Robert Pickton, and the many unsolved murders along the Highway of Tears highlighted the need for vulnerable women to have alternative models of reporting assault.

There were approximately 636,000 self-reported incidents of sexual assault in 2014, or 22 incidents for every 1,000 Canadians age 15 and older - unchanged since 2004, despite a decline for all other crimes over the same period.

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