Nov. 25: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Posted: November 25, 2008 in Aboriginal Peoples, Human Rights
Tags: ,

Marchers in Saskatchewan in July 2008, in the "Walk for Missing Sisters" to raise awareness about missing aboriginal women, children and men. Photo: Native Women's Association of Canada

It is tragically ironic on this day, declared by the United Nations to be “for the elimination of violence against women,” to read that the UN has called on Canada to properly investigate the disappearances and murders of over 500 aboriginal women that have occured since 1980.

According to a Canadian Press article, in today’s Winnipeg Free Press

The United Nations is calling on the Harper government to investigate why hundreds of deaths and disappearances of aboriginal women remain unsolved.

It’s asking Ottawa to report back in a year on the status of more than 500 cases that “have neither been fully investigated nor attracted priority attention, with the perpetrators remaining unpunished.”

The UN committee on the elimination of discrimination against women wants Canada to “urgently carry out thorough investigations” to trace how and why the justice system failed.

A federally funded $5-million study by the Native Women’s Association of Canada concludes that 510 aboriginal girls and women have vanished or been murdered since 1980. It calls for an emergency strategy.

This report from the UN is more evidence that the failure to investigate these disappearances is part of a larger, systemic failure to address violence against women, generally. According to the article

The UN committee also wants Ottawa to set minimum standards for welfare to better protect the most vulnerable citizens across Canada. And it raises alarms about lack of shelters for battered women, and Conservative government cuts that wiped out the Court Challenges Program — funding that helped advance minority rights.

Worldwide, according to a UN factsheet,

The most common form of violence experienced by women globally is physical violence inflicted by an intimate partner. On average, at least one in three women is beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused by an intimate partner in the course of her lifetime.

This two-page factsheet is a grim litany of the most abominable crimes against woman that contains disturbingly little on what is being done to end them.

Violence against women is so pervasive that it is easy to feel overwhelmed by it all and seek solace in the knowledge that we are not directly involved in harming women. However, as Albert Einstein reportedly observed:

The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.

So, if you are not already involved, start doing something about it by learning about the aboriginal girls and women who have vanished or been murdered since 1980. You can begin at Missing Native You can help hold Harper accountable by signing a petition, here. And you can get a swack of info at Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action.

And then there’s that matter of the war, where we are helping the Americans save the women and girls of Afghanistan, by dropping bombs on them . . .

  1. Beijing York says:

    Thanks for this Paul. I have signed the petition and e-mailed a note with the link to many friends and colleagues.

  2. Dan says:

    is there an event or rally that we can attend to demonstrate support on Nov 25th in Winnipeg?


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