Despite advancements in protecting women against abuse, domestic violence still remains the most pervasive form of violence against women, affecting 641 million people worldwide. Gender-based violence rates were high before the COVID-19 pandemic, with a woman being murdered by her intimate partner an average of every six days in Canada. [Canadian Women’s Foundation]
COVID-19 lockdowns have exacerbated issues of women facing abusive relationships, with 16% of women surveyed by Women Shelter’s Canada say they have experienced “much more severe” violence at home. During pandemic lockdown periods, options for leaving home to reach out for help became limited with many women fearing contracting the virus and a possible increase of being monitored by their abusers. Housing insecurity, fear of homelessness and job loss became an even bigger barrier and deterrent for women wanting to leave an abusive home.
The Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability released an annual femicide report recently, finding 160 women and girls were killed across the country last year, an increase from the previous year, with an average of a woman being murdered every 2.5 days. The report also cites a disproportionate number of Indigenous women killed, and overrepresentation of murders in rural areas and smaller towns, despite the vast majority of Canadians residing in urban centres.
The people of this country deserve to hear from our government about a federal strategy to end gender-based violence. It has been 30 years since Canada established December 6th as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, commemorating the anniversary of the tragic École Polytechnique massacre in Quebec, which saw the deaths of fourteen women because of their gender. 30 years later and our country still has no national plan to address and stop violence against women.
Ways to demand a National Plan:
- Write to your local representative and demand government take the next step towards a National Action Plan to end gender-based violence now. Find out who the Member of Legislative Assembly is in your community and how to contact them.
- Write a letter to The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality to demand a National Action Plan to protect women against violence and abuse.