(Image courtesy Pixabay)

(Image courtesy Pixabay)

The city council of Vancouver, British Columbia, is defunding a rape crisis center for women because it won’t allow men on its premises.

The council decided the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter will get no more city funding “until it accommodates men who identify as women,” the Daily Telegraph of London reported.

The shelter, opened in 1973, is Canada’s oldest rape crisis center. It prohibits men from its facilities to provide protection to women who are in crisis.

The shelter said the Vancouver City Council’s decision “is intended to coerce us to change our position and practice of offering some of our core services only to women who are born female.”

“Our organization’s status as an equality-seeking group and our entitlement to serve women who are born female was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 2003, by the British Columbia Court of Appeal in 2005 and by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2007,” the organization explained.

But the council is trying to “undermine our autonomy as a women’s group – to decide who we serve, who our membership is and who we organize with,” and that “also undermines the protections the law has granted us.”

“Such conduct has no place in a democratic society,” the shelter said.

It also noted the city still provides grants to other organizations that “support specific groups.”

“Rightfully, none of these groups [has] been challenged with the demand that they demonstrate ‘accommodation, welcomeness and openness to people of all ages, abilities … and ethnicities.’ Such a demand of these organizations would be incomprehensible, as it would contradict the essence and purpose of their work. Yet, this is what is being asked of us under the guise of inclusivity,” the shelter said.

Already, the shelter has helped nearly 46,000 women “seeking our support in their escape from male violence.”

“More than just providing immediate safety, we offer a place to group, analyze, strategize and fight back against male violence,” the shelter said. ” … Our services are available to all women who have experienced male violence. We provide assistance to women and girls in prostitution who have been assaulted by johns, pimps or men pressuring them into prostitution. We provide assistance to women who are currently being prostituted, women who are trying to escape prostitution, and women who have been trafficked into prostitution.

“Being girls and women in this world often impacts both how we look and how we act in private and in public; what we are allowed to do, encouraged to do and rewarded for; and also what we are discouraged from doing, prohibited to do or punished for. And from that place, in a woman-only space, with other women, who have the shared experience of being born without a choice to the oppressed class of women we come together to organize and strategize our resistance and our fight for women’s liberation.”

Shelter spokeswoman Hilla Kerner affirmed the organization will not change its position, the Vancouver Star reported.

“Most of our services are based on that principle. Our consciousness raising work” our support group, our peer counselling work and that means that some of our services are not available to people who are not born female,” she said.

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