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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Justice for Girls

Justice for Girls is a non-profit organization that promotes freedom from violence, social justice and equality for teenage girls who live in poverty.

Canadian girls face disturbingly high rates of violence. Male violence is a daily reality for homeless young women. On the street young women are subjected to constant verbal, physical and sexual violence. Girls who 'panhandle' and 'squeegy' for money face every kind of physical and verbal assault. Day to day they are touched, poked, prodded, fondled, forcibly kissed, spat on, pelted with objects (such as cigarette butts), grabbed, pushed, punched, and kicked. Girls who are sexually abused through prostitution are most vulnerable to all forms of violence including murder. Men who abuse girls on the street-"johns", passers-by, boyfriends, police, bar patrons- rarely, if ever face consequences for their attacks on homeless teenage girls.

As a result of racist child welfare practices and colonial destruction of Indigenous communities, Indigenous girls make up a large percentage of teenage girls in poverty
including homeless girls. Indigenous girls are subjected to extreme rates of violence and constitute a shocking number of murder and suicide victims in British Columbia. Justice for Girls has observed that men who commit the most serious sexual violence against multiple teenage girls very often choose Indigenous girls as their targets. We understand these to be hate motivated acts of sexual violence.

Whether it is past sexual abuse at home or in government care, rape by a current boyfriend, or repeated sexual exploitation and abuse by "johns", the effects of sexual violence against girls are severe and cummulative. In addition to physical injuries, girls experience chronic anxiety, panic attacks, depression, emotional numbness, flash-backs, sleep and eating disturbances, gastro-intestinal disorders, and more. In order to cope, young women sometimes use drugs, live "on the run," harm and mutilate their own bodies, act out anger on other girls, or attempt or commit suicide.

Low-income and homeless teenage girls need the safety of housing and services that are for girls only. Given the level of male violence that young women face and their marginalization through poverty, systemic racism, and other forms of oppression, programs and services for girls must respond to the compounding effects of multiple forms of oppression and repeated male violence
justiceforgirls.org/index.html -.

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