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Professor Wiegers and colleagues across Canada recently published an article in the Osgoode Hall Law Journal, highlighting the elevated risks faced by survivors of domestic violence during the early stages of the pandemic.

Professor Wiegers examines domestic violence and access to justice during the pandemic

Wanda Wiegers, a professor at the USask College of Law, has been involved in research related to domestic violence for more than 20 years.

Since 2016, her research has largely focused on “Domestic Violence and Access to Justice Within and Across Multiple Legal Systems”— a project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Jennifer Koshan (University of Calgary) was the principal investigator and Wiegers, along with USask colleague Michaela Keet, was among the co-investigators on the project.

When the pandemic struck, Wiegers, along with Koshan and Janet Mosher (York University), became interested in how domestic violence issues were being amplified and in the fall of 2020 they co-authored COVID and the Shadow Pandemic. The article, published in the Osgoode Hall Law Journal, highlighted the elevated risks faced by survivors of domestic violence during the early stages of the pandemic.

“These risks arise from an increased incidence of domestic violence, an expanded range of controlling and coercive tactics available to abusive partners, along with reduced access to services due to lockdowns, stay-at-home and other public health orders,” explained Wiegers.

Wiegers hopes that the research outlined in the article will help identify access to justice issues that are relevant to those affected by domestic violence.

“Ultimately, we hope to enhance the safety of women and children—the primary victims of domestic violence.” 

Wiegers, Koshan and Mosher have also recently released Violence and Access to Justice: A Mapping of Relevant Laws, Policies and Justice System Components Across Canada, an e-book intended to provide a survey of legislation, government policies and justice system components that apply to domestic violence across Canada.

The resource, aimed at those who work with and support survivors of domestic violence, as well as researchers, lawyers and policy makers, was funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario and can be downloaded for free at CanLii.ca.

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