We Can All Help Prevent Violence Against Women

Statistics and Prevention of Violence Against Women

This week is Prevention of Violence Against Women week. Despite the many gains Canada has made towards creating equality between men and women, statistics on violence against women in Canada remind us that we still have a ways to go in improving women’s conditions. For, according to UN Women — the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, “Violence against women and girls is rooted in gender-based discrimination, and social norms and gender stereotypes that perpetuate such violence.”  Statistics Canada data show s that violence against women (such as spousal assault, sexual assault, and criminal harassment) remains a problem in Canada.

POVAWW2016_CROP1Spousal Violence
According to the 2009 General Social Survey (GSS), 6.4% of women reported being physically or sexually assaulted by their spousal or common-law partner at least once during the previous five years. In 2007, spousal violence accounted for 53% of all police-reported family violence, or 12% of all violent crime in Canada. More than 80% of police-reported incidents of violence were reported by females.
Data shows that female victims experience more extreme forms of violence compared to men, such as being sexually assaulted, beaten, choked, or threatened with a gun or knife. Females also have a spousal homicide rate three to four times higher than that of men.

Sexual Assault
In the 2004 GSS, 3% of Canadian women reported being sexually assaulted. However, the survey suggested that only 8% of assaults were reported to police. The reasons given in interviews for not reporting included feeling ashamed or embarrassed, believing the police couldn’t help, fearing they wouldn’t be believed, not wanting to get involved with the police and courts, or fearing the assailant. That same year, only 38% of cases of sexual assault led to a conviction.
In 2007, 92% of victims of sexual assaults (reported to police) were female.

Criminal Harassment
 In 2008, 73% of all criminal harassment reported to police was directed at women.

POVAWW2016_CROP3Who is most at risk?
Some women are especially at risk of violence. According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, Aboriginal women are 3.5 times more likely to be victims of violence compared to non-Aboriginal women. Other groups more at risk include women with a disability, immigrant women, and younger women.

Seven Ways You Can Help Prevent Violence Against Women

  1. Support women’s organizations, or support, attend, or start a violence prevention program. Research shows that high school violence prevention programs are highly effective.
  2. Since gender inequality can cause violence, challenge discrimination if you see it happening. Employment discrimination, sexual harassment, or cultural objectification can reduce women’s power compared to men, putting them more at risk of violence.
  3. Confront racism and other forms of oppression as well, since violence is rooted in oppression and inequality. Send a strong message that it isn’t ok to treat others without respect.
  4. If you are a parent, help your child or teen to develop the skills needed to create healthy relationships. Model for, and teach sons to treat women with respect, equality, and caring.
  5. In personal relationships, challenge and reach out to people who participate in disrespectful behavior such as sexist comments and objectification. Examine your own behavior to see if you are participating in any of these behaviours.
  6. If you are in a position to, support women in achieving economic autonomy and security, and help increase their participation and decision-making powers.
  7. Since girls who grow up witnessing violence against women are more likely to be with abusive partners, and boys who witness their mother’s abuse are more likely to become abusers, support organizations and programs that help women move out of violence.

POVAWW2016_CROP2If you know a woman in an abusive situation, the Canadian Woman’s Foundation offers some ways to help. For more ideas on prevention, visit Battered Women’s Support Services, and UN Women.

sexual violence preventionIf you have been a victim of violence, contact VictimLink BC at 1-800-563-0808 for crisis support and referrals to a network of community, social, health, justice, and government resources, including victim services, transition houses, and counselling services. They also offer information on the justice system, legislation and programs, crime prevention, safety planning, and the Protection Orders Registry.

If you live in the Metro Vancouver Region, you can phone or text 2-1-1 for referral to local community resources and victim services, or visit the Red Book Online.

The infographics used in the article were created by the BC Society of Transition Houses
in honour of Prevention of Violence Against Women Week 2016