Remember well, and take action, every day of the year

Posted December 5, 2013

(This post originally appeared in the Times & Transcript on December 5th, 2013, and is shared with permission.)

Tomorrow, Dec. 6, is Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and the 24th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre in which 14 young women were murdered at an engineering school. It also marks the last day of the annual 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence initiative that began on Nov. 25, the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Dec. 6 also brings YWCA Canada’s Rose Campaign to end violence against women and girls, which runs concurrently with the 16 Days of Activism, to a close.

In acknowledgement of the significance of Dec. 6 in the struggle to end violence against women and girls, I would like to share some facts with you.

For the 2013 Rose Campaign, YWCA Canada released a series of infographics presenting the following information on violence against women (culled from a variety of reputable sources like the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Statistics Canada, peer reviewed journals, etc.):

Every year, 100,000 women and children in Canada stay at emergency shelters to flee violence; almost half of them don’t know where they will go after the shelter.

There at 460,000 sexual assaults in Canada every year. Of those assaults: only 33 per cent will be reported to the police; 29 per cent will be recorded as a crime; 12 per cent will result in charges; six per cent of them will actually be prosecuted; and three per cent will actually see a conviction.

Violence against women costs Canada $18.6 billion annually, while the government spends $79.9 million per year on violence programs and services. Broken down, violence against women annually costs $334 per Canadian, while the government invests only $3 per Canadian in related programs and services.

Here are some additional facts about violence against women from the Canadian Women’s Foundation (like YWCA Canada’s infographics, the Foundation has gathered the following stats from credible sources, like Statistics Canada and the Native Women’s Association of Canada):

On average, every six days a Canadian woman is killed by her intimate partner.

There are over 582 Aboriginal women in Canada who are either missing or murdered (according to the Native Women’s Association of Canada, “if this figure were applied proportionally to the rest of the female population there would be 18,000 missing Canadian women and girls).

Of female sexual assault victims, 66 per cent are under the age of 24; 11 per cent are under the age of 11.

Finally, here are some facts that are specific to New Brunswick, taken from a study by Dr. Deborah Doherty (presented in 2010 by the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women) of 35 confirmed cases of domestic homicide in the province between 1989 and 2010:

Sixty-six per cent of the women were killed by a common-law or former common law partner or ex-boyfriend. The remaining 34 per cent of women were killed by a husband or ex-husband.

Thirty-seven per cent of the women were killed after separating from a partner.

Of the 20 cases in which the perpetrator did not subsequently commit suicide: nine perpetrators were convicted for first or second degree murder; eight for manslaughter; one for criminal negligence. One was found not criminally responsible.

For once, I’m going to withhold my opinion, because I hope that these numbers speak for themselves. I don’t think I need an angle of analysis, a cutting approach, or pop culture hook. I need the facts to be read and for what is plainly obvious to be understood: even in 2013, women in Canada are being displaced by violence, being sexually assaulted, and being killed—often when they’re trying to flee the violence.

While I let the numbers speak for themselves, I will invite you to take action on this issue. I encourage you to visit to learn about violence against women on a national level. I also suggest reading over the Government of New Brunswick’s 2012 Equality Profile on women. I invite you to attend a candlelight vigil organized by the Moncton & District Labour Council tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at the Dan Bohan Centre in Riverview; this vigil is often attended by family members of women in New Brunswick who were killed as part of their healing process.
 More than anything, I invite you to remember the facts of violence against women in Canada every day of the year, not just tomorrow. After all, the slogan for is “First mourn, then work for change,” and we must never forget that the day is ultimately a call to action.

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