Increased number of women and girls murdered in Canada due to ‘epidemic’

Research from Ryerson University finds rate of women murdered last year was similar to past decades

Women and girls are being killed in greater numbers in Canada as they face an enduring epidemic of sexual violence and domestic and interpersonal violence, according to new research from Ryerson University.

In a report released on Tuesday, researchers determined that a women or girl was killed on average one month during each of the past five years.

“Based on the data we looked at, women are being killed in greater numbers as a result of an ongoing epidemic of sexual violence, domestic and interpersonal violence,” said Melissa Woods, a professor at Ryerson who directed the study.

Data from the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner revealed that in 2017 there were 13,490 complaints about police, including 9,568 for sexual violence and 1,562 for intimate partner violence.

In 2016, there were 14,342 complaints about police, including 9,553 for sexual violence and 1,747 for intimate partner violence. In 2015, there were 12,537 complaints.

The report also discovered that while the overall number of women and girls murdered remained constant between 2012 and 2017, the total numbers of female homicide victims increased to 793 from 723. The uptick has been attributed to the expansion of the Police Violence Service in Ontario.

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The raw research was derived from the Department of Justice’s human crime database. It also took into account data from Canada’s national police services, to come up with the total number of murders, Woods said.

“It’s a tremendously important data set, because a lot of times we go into the data looking for one particular problem and then we come out of it,” Woods said. “We’re trying to understand why, when and how this particular problem occurs.”

On Monday, girls and women young and old took to the streets of Toronto and Vancouver to march and lobby for more action on sexual assault, harassment and violence.

The groups are part of an ongoing campaign started in 2015, after the acquittal of a man who had been found guilty of sexual assault by a jury.

“The campaign has been so eye-opening for me,” said Woods. “Seeing the women doing this daily, in their communities, is such a powerful picture of change.”

Woods and researchers from the Universities of British Columbia and Manitoba pointed to the recent rash of high-profile high-profile cases of men accused of sexual violence being found not guilty or had charges dropped as evidence of an epidemic of violence.

It is essential to determine the overall trend of the number of women murdered each year, the researchers wrote in the report.

The researchers said it will take time for police to fully implement new procedures to address sexual violence complaints, but insisted more studies were needed.

“We continue to see the horrific nature of violence against women and girls but we’re starting to understand why, what we can do to really lower the toll,” Woods said.

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