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Dying to Live: Femicide in Canada and Around the World

“Femicide” is a term that describes the killing of women and girls due to their sexual identity. Femicide is typically driven by gender-specific factors and examples of it are honour killing, sexual-orientation hate crimes, dowry-related violence, intimate partner violence, etc. In Canada and other parts of the world, women are more likely to be the victims of domestic violence or intimate partner violence than men. In fact, 83% of the victims of spousal abuse are women, and approximately every 6 days in Canada 1 woman is killed by her intimate partner. On average, there are generally higher rates of homicides among males, however women are far more likely to experience homicide by the hand of their intimate partner. Not only are these statistics alarming, but they truly exemplify the patriarchy that men still hold to women and the gender inequality that still exists in everyday life. Due to the power difference between men and women present in society in all parts of the world, females are more likely than men to experience all forms of abuse.

According to the Canadian 2018 Femicide Map, there were at least 100 reported murdered women in 2018, with the province of Ontario having the highest rate of murder and Quebec the second highest. Evidently, the only provinces 0 killings were the North West Territories and Newfoundland and Labrador. As a trend, it appears most of these homicides were committed in the south eastern regions of Canada.

Violence against women is prevalent all over the world and is even more common in other countries. According to United Nations report in 2017, Latin America and the Caribbean are among the most violent regions for women. In fact, in Guatemala two women are murdered every day on average. However there are other statistics that point to other areas of the world like India, where dowry-related violence kills approximately 20 women every day. It appears that different parts of the world have different driving factors for committing femicide and that gender-based violence and inequality is rooted in all areas of the world.

Among the women living in Canada, immigrants and Aboriginal women are at an even higher risk of domestic violence and femicide. Moreover, these women face additional oppressions (in addition to sexism). Although not much research has been done on the prevalence of femicide among immigrants in Canada, a recent immigrant could face particular barriers to accessing the services and justices they require. Also, if a female immigrant living in Canada is experiencing domestic violence and is sponsored by their spouse; their spouse could threaten to withdraw their sponsorship as a method of control. These are other factors that non immigrant and non aboriginal women are not challenged with to the same extent. Among the female population in Canada, Aboriginal women and children are dramatically over-represented in the population of missing and murdered women. Aboriginal women are approximately 12-16 times more likely to be murdered or go missing than non-Aboriginal women. In addition, the proper services needed in order to cope with intimate partner violence are not as obtainable to this population due to lack of awareness or education on them, lack of transportation, poor trust and relationship with police, distance from home community, lack of faith in effectiveness of resources, etc. With that being said, it is important to be aware of the violence that all women face in Canada, with a particular focus on women with an intersectional or marginalized identity, as they are at an even greater risk.

To conclude, although femicide is a complex topic, there are many things we can do as a society to help eradicate this issue. Some of these ideas include strengthening surveillance and screening of femicide and intimate partner violence, early education on healthy relationships and abuse, training and sensitizing hospital and health workers, reducing gun ownership, etc. Currently, The Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability, diligently tracks and provides detailed information on the victims of femicide per province, and educates the public on the types of femicide, trends and patterns, and prevention. This website allows you to scroll to each victim of femicide in Canada in the year of 2018, and view more details on their location and identity. Moreover, Western University has a Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children. This centre that was opened in 1992, following the 1989 murder of 14 women in Montreal, and provides a copious variety as well as conducts research on violence against women and children, healthy relationships, gender inequality, etc .The centre also provides a variety of resources to the public on safe schools, media violence, sexual harassment and provides online training on responding to disclosures of sexual violence, responding to intimate partner violence, etc. The centre Most importantly, it is integral to address the sexist undertones still prevalent in Canadian society and the rest of the world, and how they contribute to gender-based violence and murder.

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