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Alberta launches pilot project giving free legal advice to sex assault victims

EDMONTON — Alberta is launching a pilot project to help victims of sexual assault learn about and assess their legal options.

Stephanie McLean, the minister for the status of women, says $700,000 will be given to the Elizabeth Fry Society for a three-year pilot project to deliver free legal advice.

The centres will provide lawyers who will outline options such as going through the criminal justice system and filing a human rights or civil claim.

McLean says victims often won’t go to authorities for fear of not being believed and of being revictimized.

The project will launch in November in areas served by the Elizabeth Fry Society including Edmonton, Stony Plain, Sherwood Park, Fort Saskatchewan, Camrose, Red Deer, and some Indigenous communities.

McLean says sexual violence is the most under-reported crime in Canada, with only an estimated one victim in 20 coming forward.

“We want sexual assault survivors to know they have power, they have rights and that we stand with them,” McLean said Friday.

“When we support survivors to know their rights and choices, we help them to get back the power that they lost and support them in their journey to heal, seek justice, and move forward with their lives.”


The Canadian Press