Friday, December 7

PAMELA CROSS--Violence rooted in inequality

As each year passes since the murders of 14 women at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique in 1989, I struggle with the best way to commemorate those deaths and to place them in the historic context of the violence that continues to be experienced by women across Canada and around the world.

And, each year, I become angrier.

Why? Because the killing of women -- something that should be treated with outrage every time it happens -- is commonplace; in fact, it is almost no news at all.

Why? Because any reaction other than anger to the ongoing abuse, torture and slaughter of women at the hands of men is just not appropriate. It means you are not paying attention.

Why? Because in a world that has conquered so many serious problems and challenges, that has figured out how to travel in space, to put thousands of songs on a piece of equipment as big as my thumb, that can create human life in a test tube, there is no excuse for not figuring out how to end violence against women.

Why? Because anger motivates action, and we need action.

Why? Because in the seven years between 2000 and 2006, the number of women killed by their partners and former partners was 500 -- more than 70 a year and five times as many as the total number of Canadian frontline military and police deaths in the same time.


Dec. 6 still matters because women in Canada still experience violence in appalling numbers. Not only are women killed in shocking numbers but tens of thousands more are battered and beaten, emotionally abused and sexually assaulted -- 100,000 women and their children use battered women's shelters every year in this country.

Violence against women is rooted in women's inequality. Until we end that inequality we are not going to end violence against women.

Because women are not equal, women are poor. When women are poor, they are more vulnerable to violence -- it is harder to leave an abusive partner, it is harder to live in safe housing, in safe parts of the city; it is harder to find safe work.

Because women are not equal, we are under-represented politically. We see the impact of the lack of representation by women in the kinds of policy decisions being made in areas such as child care, maternity/parental benefits and pay equity, all of which have an impact on women's ability to live lives free from violence.

Because women are not equal, Canadian laws related to violence against women do not reflect the reality of women's lives and vulnerability to violence.

And yet, a little over a year ago, the federal government declared women in Canada had achieved equality and put an end to funding for women's equality research and advocacy work.

This, in a country where more than 70 women a year are murdered by men, where women earn 73 cents for every dollar earned by men, where there is no national child-care strategy, where women are not safe in their homes, their schools, their workplaces or on the streets.

If this is equality, I would hate to see inequality.


Dec. 6 is an annual opportunity to remember the 14 women murdered at L'Ecole Polytechnique.
It is also a time to commit to another year of activism to end violence against women.

Seventy dead women and 100,000 women and children living in shelters every year is simply too many.

Let's make 2008 the year we end women's inequality and take a giant step towards ending violence against women in Canada

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I've just finished exams and come home to find a lot of negative response in the letters section of the Edmonton Sun. I'm not sure where you're from, but have you seen similar letters? I'm actually surprised to see such misogynistic comments published.