Commit to National Action Plan on Violence Against Women in the Wake of the Toronto Attack
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On Monday, April 23, while our Communications Coordinator was with fellow women's rights activists somewhat jokingly toasting to "smashing the patriarchy!" people in Toronto were dying at the hands of a man who allegedly killed them because he hated women for rejecting him. If he was Muslim or a refugee, there would be countless racist comments on social media and traditional media describing the attack as terrorism, calling for an end to immigration, demanding deportation, etc. In fact, there were those comments even though the alleged perpetrator is not Muslim.
But when it's misogyny, when this is the second largest terrorist attack on Canadian soil after the Ecole Polytechnique massacre, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said, "The events that happened on the street behind us are horrendous but they do not appear to be connected in any way to national security, based on the information available at this time."
Reports are coming in that the perpetrator was motivated by misogyny and the idea of being “involuntarily celibate.” This is not a new phenomenon. We have consistently seen that the perpetrators of mass killings - from The Pulse shooting to Polytech to the Quebec mosque to Las Vegas to Toronto - are usually men, often with warped views on women and feminism or with a history of domestic violence. We need to have hard conversations about toxic masculinity, about the idea that women do not owe men dates or affection or sex. That this is not about mental illness, but about a culture of hate that sees women and girls as disposable, sexual objects who should be kept in their place.
Also on that Monday, Dubravka Šimonović, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women (VAW), issued her end of mission statement calling on Canada to adopt a National Action Plan (NAP) on Violence Against Women. That same week, feminists from Canada and around the world met in Ottawa at the W7 - challenging G7 leaders to tackle big issue through a feminist lens.
The statistics in Canada are stark: Half of all women have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. On average, every 6 days a woman is killed by her current or former intimate partner. Indigenous women are 6 times more likely to be killed than non-Indigenous women.
Along with Women's Shelters Canada, DisAbled Women's Network of Canada, the Canadian Women's Foundation, Women's Legal Education and Action Fund, YWCA Canada, and many other national and provincial organizations have been calling for an NAP on VAW for the past few years.
In June 2017, the Government of Canada announced its Strategy to Address and Prevent Gender Based Violence. While this is a step towards an NAP, it differs in that it only deals with federal institutions. Canada needs an NAP to ensure that women in all areas of the country have access to comparable levels of services and protection. An NAP would ensure a shared understanding of the root causes of VAW as well as coordinated and effective efforts across the federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal levels.
This IS a national security issue. Justin Trudeau, Maryam Monsef, and the federal government as a whole, a self-declared feminist government, need to listen to international, national, and provincial voices calling for a comprehensive NAP on VAW. They need to acknowledge that violence against women for being women - in their private lives and in their public lives, when walking along Yonge Street - is a national security issue and needs to be addressed through a National Action Plan.
Join us in asking for our federal government's support to effectively tackle the root causes of toxic masculinity, misogyny, and violence against women.
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