2018: a killing field for women in Ontario

Holly Hamilton, 29, Hamilton

Baljit Thandi, 32, and Avtar Kaur, 60, Brampton

Elaine Bellevue, 61, Mississauga

Jan Singh, 70, Oakville

Barbara Kovic, 76, Etobicoke

Ulla Theoret, 55, Raya Turunen, 88, Paul Theoret, 28, Ryerson Township

Safaa Marina, 53, Nepean

Brenda Richardson, 77

Alicia Lewandowski, 25, Peel

Krassimira Pejcinovski, 39, Roy Pejcinovski, 15, Venallia Pejcinovski, 13, Ajax

Ten women and five family members; all killed since January 1st of this year. The killers were husbands, boyfriends, ex-boyfriends and stalkers. In two cases, the killer also killed himself.

The victims range in age from 13 to 88. Some lived in urban centres, some lived in rural communities. Some were Canadian-born, some were born elsewhere. Most had children. Their economic status ranged widely.

They all had at least two things in common: they did nothing to warrant being killed and their deaths were all acts of femicide.

Shocking numbers

On average, one woman in Canada is killed every 6 days (in Ontario, it’s one every 13 days) by a man who knows her: most often, a husband or ex-husband, a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend, but also a work colleague, a neighbour, a man who wants her to like him.

Shocking as these statistics should be, the 15 deaths in Ontario this year – more than one a week — far surpass them.

Every time a woman is killed, crisis lines, shelters and women’s legal clinics are overwhelmed with calls from women who are scared: scared they may be the next headline; scared that even though they want to leave there is nowhere safe for them to go; scared that no one will believe them if they tell because their abuser is “such a nice guy;’ scared that, if they leave, he will take the kids; scared because their abuser also read the news and is using the most recent killing as a threat; scared because they feel trapped and without hope for a safe future for themselves and their children.

Disappearing stories

The media cover the story for a day or two but, sadly, the killing of women by men is so commonplace that the stories disappear quickly to give space to other breaking news. Seldom are patterns or trends identified. With rare exceptions, little investigative journalism takes place to explore the underlying causes of the violence that explodes into killing.

If those of us working with survivors did not scour the media and keep our own lists, we would not know that there had been 15 victims of femicide in Ontario this year already. How, then, is anyone else to know?

Enough is enough

We know from the reports of the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee that most domestic homicides are predictable and preventable.

It is time to bring them to an end.

8 thoughts on “2018: a killing field for women in Ontario

  1. This is a powerful and really important piece. Think about sending it to some major online or hard copy media outlets to give it a wider distribution than it will have via this blog.

  2. Yes, very powerful and important. For those of us not in the know, can you say more about how to predict and prevent domestic homicide? Thank you for your work.

  3. Behind closed doors, that is how it was for me, no one knew, if asked most would say that we were a happy couple. You just don’t realize because you are so in deep, when you do start to realize it doesn’t come all at once, the knowledge that you have held and buried is uncovered slowly if it wasn’t you would be so devastated and so shocked. That’s how it was for me, it was only with the help of a women’s shelter and many months of counselling that you release the blame you have placed on yourself, and become free of the abuse. I got out before it was too late, I pray that now for every woman out there in an abusive situation. GET OUT BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

  4. Thank you. We do need to keep reporting every time a woman is in danger, every time a woman has been murdered. This gives all of us the information we need to show this shameful murderous local and global society of accepted male dominance, for what it is. Hopefully through our speaking out every time, more women will find safety. We are here to change this.

  5. Knowing what to do is not always easy. Each of us has something different to contribute to the work to end violence against women.

    Small actions can be as important as large ones. For example:
    > speaking up when someone makes a sexist joke
    > mentioning the rate of domestic homicide to friends and colleagues
    > helping children find books and movies with strong female characters
    > challenging stereotyped characterizations of both women and men in popular culture

    Other actions to consider are:
    > writing a letter to your local newspaper about violence against women
    > connecting with women’s organizations in your community to offer your time, skills and/or your money
    > raising the issue in your workplace

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