Combatting violence against women
Tracking bracelets: Quebec moves forward to better protect victims
In an effort to protect women who have experienced abuse, the Fédération des Maisons d'Hébergement pour Femmes (FMHF) announced the introduction of electronic tracking bracelets with geolocators built into them.
The FMHF represents 37 shelters across Quebec, including five in the Outaouais. Each year, the shelters house nearly 3,000 women and 15,000 children who have experienced domestic, sexual, and family violence. They aim to provide short-term and long-term housing and ensure the physical and psychological health of those who use their service.
The offender will wear the bracelet and the victim will be given a device that centres them in the middle of two zones. If the offender enters the pre-alert area, they will receive a call telling them to turn back. If the offender does not comply and enters the alert zone, police are contacted
to intervene to protect the victim and apprehend the offender. Using the tracking bracelet requires the consent of the victim.
According to Statistics Canada, in 2019, 107,810 people over the age of 15 experienced intimate partner violence; 79% of them were women.
Judges, wardens, members of the Commission Québécoise des Libérations Conditionnelles could impose the wearing of this bracelet and prohibit communication with the victim or entrance to a certain place or area.
In order for authorities to have the power to require an offender to be linked to a device, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety, Geneviève Guilbault introduced Bill 24. The bill specifies which authorities can impose the bracelet and in which contexts.
According to the FMHF, the project was inspired by similar initiatives in France and Spain.
The pilot project will be launched in May 2022 in the Quebec City courthouse and the Quebec City Detention Facility. Over time, more regions in Quebec will have access to the technology and, by September 2023, there will be 500 bracelets distributed to various regions.
According to FMHF, the Quebec government can only intervene if the offender received a sentence of two years minus one day. Meaning, the technology cannot be used on a significant number of offenders.
FMHF states that they are hoping provincial and federal governments continue to maximize the protection of victims and implement measures that meet the needs of women who experience domestic, family, and sexual violence. Other measures supported by the FMHF include establishing courts that specialize in domestic and sexual violence.