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VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AT `CRISIS LEVEL’

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An $8 million Canadian government study released Thursday said male violence against women is at a "crisis level" and that the nation should strive for zero tolerance by the year 2000.

But some women's groups immediately rejected the report as a hollow gesture, calling it a pre-election campaign stunt by a Progressive Conservative government that is expected to call a national election for the fall.The two-year study made more than 450 recommendations, the two primary ones being the need to achieve equality for women and the elimination of violence against women.

"The country should take on the adoption of a policy of zero tolerance," the authors said in the report.

Mary Collins, minister for the status of women, applauded the report and said the federal government is committed to implementing the report's "zero tolerance" recommendation.

"The panel's report brings us to a new level of awareness and understanding about violence against women and its links with women's inequality, and creates a common reference for all our efforts," Collins said.

But an angry spokesman for the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centers said the report is not specific enough.

"How dare they use our liberation as a cheap trick when they have no intention of delivering," said spokeswoman Lea Lakeman.