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 1995, Kimberly Nixon, a postoperative transsexual woman signed up to volunteer for the front lines and transition house of Vancouver Rape Relief. She was rejected from the training program because she did not share the same life experiences as women born and raised as girls and into womenhood but if interested she was able to volunteer in other ways.

That same year, Nixon, filed a complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal against Vancouver Rape Relief & Women's Shelter alleging discrimination based on sex, drawing issue with Rape Relief's right to absolute immunity from human rights legislation because of its political belief. According to the defendants, Rape Relief "met its justification burden of proof, either by demonstrating a bona fide occupational requirement, or by demonstrating that it is immunised from the reach of this complaint by section 41" of the British Columbia Human Rights Code.

On 2002, The BC Human Right Tribunal released its decision that Vancouver Rape Relief acted on good faith and had been respectful in their treatment of Kimberly Nixon. However, the tribunal ruled that Vancouver Rape Relief had not proved that life experience as a girl and woman was a necessary pre-requisite to be a peer counselor to raped and battered women and ordered the payment of $7,500 to Kimberly Nixon for hurt feelings.

On 2003, Vancouver Rape Relief appealed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. At the Supreme Court level they conducted a judicial review of the BC Human Rights Tribunal decision. Later that same year, The Supreme Court set aside the decision of the Human Rights Tribunal, finding that the Tribunal had made an error: Vancouver Rape Relief had not discriminated against Kimberly Nixon and the group does have the right to freedom of association to organize as women only.

The court further declined to send the matter back to the Tribunal for a rehearing. The Supreme Court further awarded Vancouver Rape Relief with "costs". Which as of June 2009, Kimberly Nixon has not paid back.

See also[edit]


  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. 

External links[edit]