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.
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.
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.