In the wake of the June shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas that claimed the lives of 58 people, we heard the incredible story of Alexey Cheremnesh, a 36-year-old father of three, from Russia. Cheremnesh, like so many victims of gun violence, lost his life while protecting his loved ones from a gunman who had killed 58 others and was indiscriminately spraying bullets.
Just a month earlier, another 29-year-old father from Montreal, Leonard Rauter, tragically lost his life as he attempted to pull his two young daughters from harm’s way.
So, as Canada prepares to mark Remembrance Day next week, we need to address a societal issue that is gripping many families in our communities: a sharp spike in the number of women and girls murdered by intimate partners since 2015.
READ MORE: 72 homicides from domestic violence in Ontario since 2015
According to an official report published by Statistics Canada in August, 22,153 people were murdered in Canada between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2017. Of those victims, 19,130 were female and 7,675 were male. According to the Ontario Coroners Office, 59% of homicide victims were killed by partners or intimate acquaintances.
Based on the new statistics, the number of women and girls killed by intimate partners in the Ontario between 2015 and 2017 is truly alarming. Statistics Canada reports that the number of women and girls murdered by intimate partners increased by 122% from 10 women and 6 children in 2015 to 21 women and 6 children in 2017. Based on the recent 8 to 10 percent, five year rolling average, women and girls killed by intimate partners in Ontario has been trending upward since 2009 when it was just 4 women and 1 child.
READ MORE: Recent homicides show toll violence can take on Toronto
Understanding the root cause of the spike in violence against women and girls is key, and there are many examples of what has led to similar spikes in previous years. The analysis of this data highlights that the majority of fatal gender-based homicides in Ontario were caused by male intimate partners. Women and girls killed by intimate partners (88%) were more likely to be younger (34) than older (26), and more likely to be females (77%). The minority of women and girls killed by intimate partners (8%) were male, and the majority (71%) were female.
READ MORE: What happens when one woman, nine years after she was murdered
The analysis revealed that the majority of victims were killed with firearms – 45% of women and girls killed by intimate partners were killed with firearms, while 48% of men were killed with firearms. Seven of the women and girls killed by intimate partners also died from blunt force trauma. That’s consistent with previous analyses.
Our task in eliminating this violence must start at the family level. Whether it be men committing violence against their partners, kids, or abusive co-workers, perpetrators are unlikely to be deterred by a simple yes or no. Instead, we must start where the violence actually starts: at home. This can mean focusing on how you raise your children, and raising the importance of respect, not only within the home, but within the community.
READ MORE: Is Western society moving towards ‘a paternalistic patriarchal sexualized society?’
A gender-based violence strategy must also include legislation to protect individuals from violence. Preventing future violence will also require a commitment by the Ministry of Justice to improve comprehensive legal services for victims. And, at the provincial and municipal level, communities must work together to implement and enforce current laws to protect citizens, ensure timely services are in place and to support victims in the post-death and post-decision stages.
Roughly one in three women will experience violence at some point in their lives. We must keep women and girls safe. For those most affected, each community – including Ottawa – must commit to doing its part. Together, we can truly make a difference in preventing violence.
READ MORE: 105 women, girls murdered in Ottawa since 1995
This content was provided in partnership with the Ottawa Police Service.