Seven days in

Seven days into the 16 days of activism to end gender-based violence, we know that 52 women and girls in Ontario were killed by men in the past 52 weeks. These are not random killings: approximately 75% of the time, the killer is the woman’s intimate partner, another family member or someone she knows.  

For many women and girls, home is not a safe space: 77% of this year’s femicides took place in or outside a residence. Those killed ranged in age from 8 to 88, with 51% of them over 55. Rural women made up 17% of the victims.

Indigenous and Black women are killed in numbers disproportionate to their demographic proportion of the population: last year, 4% of the women killed were Indigenous even though Indigenous women make up only 2.7% of the population and 8% of the women killed were Black, while Black women make up just 4.7% of the population.

Ni una mas!

In the first nine months of this year, 5,600 women were killed in Mexico. That’s 20 a day, a number I don’t quite know how to comprehend. And those are numbers provided by the Mexican government, so are likely on the low end. Of those killings, about half are categorized as manslaughter, a third as murder and 12% as femicide – a separate criminal offence in Mexico that carries a 70-year prison sentence. The rate at which women are murdered is rising in Mexico, even as the rate of men who are murdered – mostly because of their involvement in gang warfare – is declining.

According to researcher Melissa Fernandez, data from 2019 show that for every 100 women killed, just four perpetrators go to jail:

“Hell, it needs to be said: In this country men murder women because they can.”

Not enough

Seven days into the 16 days of activism and just a month until the government is required to provide its response to the recommendations made by the jury in the CKW inquest, we have heard barely a peep. MPPs wore purple scarves and ties on November 29th to support OAITH’s annual Wrapped in Courage campaign, and many rose to speak passionately about the need to end violence against women.

Merilee Fullerton, the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services acknowledged the work of the inquest jury and their “important recommendations,” noting that MPPs are “working across the government on a collaborative approach to consider the recommendations.”

The women of this province deserve more than politicians wearing purple scarves and ties one day of the year. We deserve more than a promise to “consider” the recommendations that could, if implemented, prevent future femicides. We need and deserve action.

As the NDP’s Jill Andrew said:

“I want to make it clear that while tears, concern and heartfelt words certainly help, it can’t be all; it’s just not enough.”

We remember

One of my inquest-related responsibilities was to prepare a report that would also serve as an inquest organizing toolkit for feminist organizations, especially those in small and rural communities. I am pleased to say that this resource, created with the financial support of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, is now available.

I owe a great debt to EVA members and many individuals in Renfrew County as well as others involved in the inquest process without whose trust, input and support I could not have written this report: thank you to each one of you.

We Remember is very much rooted in the community focus that End Violence Against Women Renfrew County (EVA) took into the inquest process. EVA was committed to ensuring that community voices were heard at the inquest and that other grassroots feminist organizations could learn from the Renfrew County experience.

It provides feminist organizations that may be considering engagement in an inquest process with on-the-ground insights as well as suggestions and tips to help them participate on their own terms and engage in ways that extend beyond the legal proceeding itself. It contains information about the CKW inquest, the community engagement process, the recommendations made by the inquest jury and reflections from some of those involved with it as well as information to support advocacy for implementation of the inquest recommendations.

December 6th, Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action, is almost upon us. Let us honour the 52 women and girls killed in the past 52 weeks in Ontario, the 20 women a day killed in Mexico and the countless thousands of women and children killed around the world simply because no one is stopping them from being killed. Right now, in Ontario, we can do so by organizing to support implementation of the CKW inquest recommendations.

It’s my hope that this report and toolkit can help that process.

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