Province increases support for victims of abuse and exploitation

On March 13, Manitoba’s Justice Minister, Kelvin Goertzen, announced an amendment to the Intimate Image Protection Act (IIPA) which will double down on efforts to protect an individual’s right to online image privacy.

Under the new law, individuals distributing intimate images of others online will be required to provide proof of consent from the other party.

“Manitobans have the right to privacy and to consent to the distribution of their intimate images,” said Goertzen. “The unwanted distribution of an intimate image can have lifelong negative impacts. Strengthening the Intimate Image Protection Act makes it clear that no one should distribute an intimate image of another person without informed consent.”

Victims of intimate image distribution will be provided with assistance in having an image removed from the internet. For those who believe they are at risk of distribution of their image without consent, information will be provided regarding legal remedies and protection that is available to them.

“In the last six months alone, has seen a 100 percent increase in reports concerning intimate images,” said Signy Arnason, associate executive director for the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. “As technology and offending tactics evolve, such as the creation of altered images to coerce and control victims, it is imperative that our laws keep pace. Manitoba has been a leader in addressing the non-consensual distribution of intimate images and we welcome this important review to ensure citizens have options beyond the criminal justice system to deal with this form of online sexual violence.”

One day earlier, Goertzen also announced the investment of an additional $2 million of further provincial supports for children who are victims of abuse.

The additional funding will provide dedicated police and operational resources for the child abuse investigative team. As well, child victims and their families, and child witnesses to violence, will be provided with a full range of resources and specialists to aid in their healing.

“In the past five years, Manitoba has seen an increase in child abuse and exploitation,” said Goertzen. “This is an unacceptable reality and our government is taking concrete action to intervene, protect children and families, and ensure perpetrators are held to account for their actions.”

The new funding will build on the existing successes of the Toba Centre for Children and Youth (TCCY), a child advocacy centre operating in collaboration with the Winnipeg Police Service and RCMP.

The centre provides a safe space for children and their families, including a child- and youth-friendly interview room with highly trained forensic interviewers.

“The development of an integrated, specialized child abuse unit, housed at Toba Centre, is a huge step forward in ensuring children and families who experience abuse receive the response they deserve,” said Christy Dzikowicz, executive director of TCCY. “Manitoba is well on its way to having the most coordinated, collaborative and community-involved child abuse response in the country.”

Brenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Niverville Citizen