Vancouver Rape Relief & Women's Shelter

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Vancouver Rape Relief & Women's Shelter
Motto Make a difference in women's lives... including your own
Formation 1973
Type Rape crisis center
Headquarters Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Region served

Vancouver Rape Relief & Women's Shelter is Canada's oldest rape crisis center, located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The shelter was established in 1973 and has operated a feminist transition house since 1983.[1] It describes itself as "an independent women's group, not part of a government service or tied to the criminal justice system".[2]

The group operates a 24-hour confidential crisis hotline for abused women free of charge. More broadly, the group works to eradicate all violence against women, which it defines as including "sexual assault, wife assault, incest, prostitution, and sexual harassment".[3] According to its website, this mission is accomplished by not only providing housing, education, resources, and support for women, but also by participating in global political struggles around issues of race, class, colonialism, and imperialism.[4]

Legal dispute with Kimberly Nixon[edit]

In August 1995, Kimberly Nixon filed a complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal against Vancouver Rape Relief & Women's Shelter. Nixon, a trans woman, had been interested in volunteering as a counselor with the shelter. When the shelter learned that she was transsexual, they told Nixon that she would not be allowed to volunteer with the organization. Nixon argued that this constituted illegal discrimination under Section 41 of the British Columbia Human Rights Code. Vancouver Rape Relief countered that individuals are shaped by the socialization and experiences of their formative years, and that Nixon had been socialized as a male growing up, and that, therefore, Nixon would not be able to provide sufficiently effective counseling to the female born women that the shelter served.

The Tribunal found in Nixon's favour and issued her an award of $7,500. Vancouver Rape Relief appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of British Columbia, which repealed the Tribunal's verdict and ruled in the favour of the shelter. After this, Nixon appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which on February 1, 2007 denied her appeal. This ended the legal dispute, with Vancouver Rape Relief's position emerging legally vindicated. Vancouver Rape Relief's lawyer, Christine Boyle, applauded the Supreme Court's decision, saying that the "right to organize has been confirmed and is under protection of the law". Nixon's attorney, Barbara Findlay, said she was disappointed with the ruling but optimistic about the long-term: "Ultimately, what is accessible to all women will be accessible to trans women, too... I think this just shows that achieving equality will take a long time for the transgendered. But there will be other cases."[5]


  1. ^ Whisnant, Rebecca (ed.). "Resisting the promotion of prostitution in Canada: A view from the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter*". Not for Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography. Christine Stark. North Melbource, Victoria: Spinifex Press. p. 210. ISBN 1-876-75649-7. OCLC 57139681. Retrieved October 7, 2012. Since 1973 the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter has been an organizing centre and a 24-hour phone line for women raped and battered. Since 1980 it has also been a feminist transition house. We house women running from abusive men - usually husbands and fathers, but sometimes pimps, johns, landlords, and sons. 
  2. ^ "About Us". Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Give/Get Help". Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Global Resistance". Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  5. ^ Rupp, Shannon (3 February 2007). "Transsexual Loses Fight with Women's Shelter". The Tyee. Retrieved December 20, 2012. 

External links[edit]