Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, marked the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, the day we pay our respects to 14 engineering students and staff who were murdered at École Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989 solely because they were women.
Thirty-one years later, our country grieved with the murders of nine men and 13 women and girls in Nova Scotia at the hands of a man with a history of violence toward his partner.
In Toronto, the ongoing trial of a man accused of murdering eight women and two men in 2018 has forced conversations about misogynistic online violence and its real-world effects.
These tragedies are a grim reminder that gender-based violence is still prevalent, and often intimate partner violence is a precursor to further violence outside of the home.
Gender-based violence happens in communities of every kind, urban and rural. It happens at work, at school and in the home.
We also know Indigenous women, immigrants, people of a visible minority, trans people and others in the 2SLGBTQ+ community, as well as those with disabilities, are especially targeted for violence.
The need for action has been amplified by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Creating what the United Nations has called a “shadow pandemic,” COVID-19 has increased risk factors associated with men’s violence toward women and reduced women’s contacts and resources in and outside their homes.
We are committed to developing an action plan to end gender-based violence and ensuring survivors of violence can access the care they need. We will also help advance and support the hard work being done by so many service providers and community groups by moving toward core funding for sexual assault centres, so they are able to focus on providing care.
Working alongside trailblazers in the sector, such as Tracy Porteous (Ending Violence Association of B.C.), Dalya Israel (WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre) and the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre has shown me the importance of listening to survivors and the communities that support them.
We continue the work, year over year, to take violence from behind closed doors and to provide survivors the care they deserve.
We are taking steps to make our province safer and more equal for everyone by providing more safe, supportive housing for those experiencing intimate partner violence, new funding for emergency sexual assault services and by working to provide gender-inclusive and anti-racist services. Initiatives aimed at improving women’s economic independence, including affordable child care, are key to this work.
We know we have more that needs to be done. We are continually reminded of the need to centre those most marginalized in our plan to address gender-based violence.
And we need help from all British Columbians. Inaction is not an option. We must continue to support and look out for people experiencing gender-based violence.
Even as we keep apart during this pandemic, we must stay united in our work to help keep all British Columbians, and especially those most likely to be targeted with violence, safe.
If you or someone you know is being abused, or if you are concerned about someone’s safety, call or text VictimLink BC through its toll-free 24/7 confidential, multilingual telephone service at 1 800 563-0808 or by email: VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca
VictimLink BC͛s staff can provide immediate crisis support and connect you to safe housing, as well as provide information and referral services for victims of family and sexual violence.
The Ending Violence Association of BC also provides resources and links to local organizations: https://endingviolence.org/need-help/
Grace Lore has a PhD in political science and a master’s degree in gender and social policy.