VJN News

Opinion: We can end violence against women

Leighann Burns
Harmony House executive director

There was a time when people smoked everywhere, including in restaurants, shopping malls and on airplanes.

What does a non-smoking section mean when people smoke on an airplane?

When I grew up people also routinely drove drunk. No one ever thought a day would come when this would seen as both socially unacceptable and illegal. But here we are.

I believe the same transformation is possible with violence against women. One of the biggest challenges we face is the widespread acceptance that violence against women is inevitable. It certainly is not.

The stories, sadly still too common, of women and children killed and brutalized can be demoralizing. But we now have forty years of feminist anti-violence work that grounds and informs what we do and a growing body of research investigating and documenting what works.

In 2013, the rate of homicide in Canada was at its lowest since 1966. The rates of acquaintance and family homicide decreased for the second year in a row, though they continued to occur significantly more often than those committed by strangers or in a criminal context.

Of note, the rate of solved intimate partner homicide fell in 2013 to 18 per cent, when it had been 25 per cent in previous years. Intimate partner homicides of women in 2013 were almost half what they were twenty years earlier, while those of men had declined by almost 73 per cent. These are very hopeful signs.

Homicide, the most extreme form of violence, is not our only concern. All other devastating forms of abuse and degradation must be addressed with equal vigour.

As a starting point, let’s take the stand that violence against women is not inevitable and can be stopped. That’s a great place to begin.  

Credit: Juristat Homicide in Canada 2013, Statistics Canada