From Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to Dec. 10, Human Rights Day, 16 days offer an opportune time to raise awareness and intensify efforts, to end all forms of violence against women.
Violence against women crosses socioeconomic, ethnic, racial, age and class backgrounds. One in three women experience violence in their lifetime. In Canada, half of all women have experienced at least one incident of sexual or physical violence from the time they were 16 years of age.
The sobering facts in Canada confirm that 83 per cent of all police-reported domestic assaults are against women. Approximately every six days a woman is killed by her intimate partner. More alarming is that half of the murdered women were killed within two moths of leaving the relationship.
Those women who manage to escape the fatal consequences, live with long and complicated survival, carrying the trauma day to day. In a country claiming that women have achieved equality under the law, so called egalitarian practices are steeped in exclusion, discriminatory structures and overall inequality that continues to permeate much of society.
We need to merely look at poverty statistics. The expansion of trafficking of women and girls, normalization of rape culture, societal attitudes that blame women who are victims of sexual assault, the lack of credibility accorded to women who courageously report spousal violence, sexual and physical assault and stalking, indicate much higher percentages than official police reported data.
In communities across the country, on any given day, more than 3,000 women and equally as many children are forced to find refuge in emergency shelters, as they flee to escape domestic violence. Shockingly, hundreds are turned away each night due to shelters being filled to capacity. In our community, it is essential and critical that the Nelson and District Women’s Centre preserve its women-only designation to provide a safe space for women and children.
A safe space for women safeguards and fosters the quality of life and the overall health of women. If women are kept out of the equation or ignored, women’s human rights will be violated and they will be left out in the cold.