A monument to women abused and murdered in Ottawa
(Photo: Padraic Ryan/Wikimedia Commons)
Around the country today, Canadians are gathering as part of the National Day Of Remembrance And Action On Violence Against Women. The date was set aside in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada to commemorate the 14 women who were singled out for their gender and murdered at École Polytechnique in Montreal.
As a reminder of why the day matters, here are seven sobering stats about violence against women in Canada:
7. Half of all Canadian women have experienced physical or sexual violence
That number comes from Statistics Canada, whose Violence Against Women Survey looked at women over the age of 18 across the country. The survey, however, was one-time-only — and it took place in 1993.
6. Sexual assault and partner violence costs the country $9 billion per year
Partially in response to what it says is a lack of data, the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report earlier this year titled The Gap in the Gender Gap: Violence Against Women in Canada. That report attempted to total up all the costs — from the justice system to health care — incurred due to sexual assault and intimate partner violence, pegging the figure at $9 billion, or around $334 per person per year. These victims were mostly women.
5. More than 3,000 women stay in shelters on a given night to escape abuse
Based on surveys filled out by most of the approximately 600 residential shelter facilities in Canada, a Statistics Canada study found that on a given night, about 3,300 women across the country were sleeping in shelters to escape abuse. About 420 women are turned away each day, half of them because the shelter they're trying to access is full (other reasons for refusing admission included mental health issues and drug-related impairment).
4. At least 668 aboriginal women and girls are missing or murdered
According to the Native Women’s Association of Canada, two to three aboriginal women are reported missing or murdered each month — and the suspected numbers that go unreported are even higher. Last month, James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said that Canada should set up a national inquiry into what he called a "disturbing phenomenon."
3. Women are 11 times more likely to be victims of sexual offences
Extrapolating from police reports, Statistics Canada reported earlier this year that violent crime against women was about five per cent higher than it was for men. But women were 11 times more likely to suffer a sexual offence than men were, and were three times more likely to be the victim of criminal harassment.
2. Young women are most at risk
That same Statistics Canada report found that the rate of reported violent crime against women between the ages of 15 and 24 was 42 per cent higher than it was for women between 25 and 34 — and almost double the rate for women between 35 and 44.
1. Thousands of children are exposed to partner violence
Estimates of the precise number of children in Canada exposed each year to partner violence range widely, from about 120,000 to a high of 800,000. Regardless of the exact number, there's a body of research that suggests that children who witness such violence are more likely to experience a range of negative outcomes, according to Statistics Canada. These include increased risk of emotional, behavioural, cognitive and social problems, with more severe outcomes for younger children.