On December 6, we remember and we will continue to work to end violence against women

Today, we remember the 14 women who lost their lives in a horrific act of gender-based violence at the hands of a lone gunman in Montréal. Though the incident occurred over 25 years ago, our society continues to struggle with the structural violence against women that manifests in many forms, and in many arenas, all too often. At particular risk are marginalized women, including women living with or vulnerable to HIV, racialized women, women who use drugs, women in prison, and women who sell or trade sex, and trans people. These members of our community remain in harm’s way, and today we recommit to ending violence against all women and trans people in Canada and around the world.

Violence against women and trans people can be insidious, but make no mistake: systemic discrimination and the denial of human rights are as violent as any weapon.

Just weeks ago, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women published its review of Canada’s compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. They found Canada to be seriously lacking in its protection and fulfilment of women’s rights, particularly for many of the aforementioned groups. The Committee noted that in order to fully realize the human rights and right to health, in particular, of women in Canada, the federal government must:

  • limit its use of the criminal law — to intentional transmission only — in prosecutions of HIV non-disclosure;
  • repeal the so-called Respect for Communities Act, which places even more barriers in the way of women requiring access to supervised consumption services;
  • repeal mandatory minimum sentences for minor, non-violent drug crimes and expand treatment and support services to women in prison; and
  • decriminalize sex work (and we add that this MUST include the decriminalization of clients and third parties).

Today we are prouder than ever to be a feminist organization, and we will continue to work to end the violence against women — no matter its form — that is a blight on our country and our society.