Awareness of sexual violence against women will be the focus for four speakers at Province House, in Halifax on Wednesday, Dec. 6. The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women has become a day to remember all women who live with, or have died because of, violence. It was established to honour the 14 young women who died at École Polytechnique in Montreal. This year, the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women invited speakers from Avalon Sexual Assault Centre, Transition House Association of Nova Scotia, Coverdale, and the Millbrook Family Treatment Centre to discuss their work in this area. “Government and community organizations work together to eliminate violence against women, including sexual violence,” said Carolyn Bolivar-Getson, Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women. “Every Nova Scotian has a role to play, and together we can eliminate violence against women.” “Protecting women and girls from sexual assault is vital,” said Sonja Power, chair of the Advisory Council. “It can destroy women’s trust in others, their confidence in themselves, and their relationships. The more we know about it, the safer women are.” In 2004, 886 sexual offences were reported to police in Nova Scotia. According to the 2004 General Social Survey, only eight per cent of sexual assaults in Canada are reported to police. Nova Scotia’s rate of sexual assault in 2004 was 40 assaults for every 1,000 people age 15 and older. That was up significantly from 1999. Most victims of sexual offences are young women and girls. The provincial government supports several efforts to prevent and protect women from sexual assault and other forms of violence. The Advisory Council on the Status of Women monitors trends in sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Staff continue to work with Silent Witness Nova Scotia and other community organizations concerned with violence against women. The advisory council is funding and partnering in a study by Avalon Sexual Assault Centre and other organizations on how sexual assault victims are helped in communities without specialized services. The Department of Health funds Avalon’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner services and, in July, announced funding for pilot projects for these services in Antigonish and Guysborough counties. The Department of Justice works with other departments and community agencies to provide a legal and policy framework and police and prosecutor training. The Department of Community Services provides funding for transition houses, women’s centres and men’s intervention programs to shelter women in abusive relationships, provide support to rebuild women’s lives and to help men who abuse their intimate partners.