By: Pia Bahile
Violence against women is the (inter) national elephant in the room. Until it rears its head and gets splashed across headlines, the plight of thousands of Canadian women who are emotionally, verbally and physically abused does not seem to be of interest to anybody. For several reasons, violence against women is simultaneously an accepted fact of life and a non-topic.
Considering the statistics, this is quite alarming. According to 2004 data from Statistics Canada, 11% of Canadian women have been stalked, 7% of Canadian women have experienced spousal violence and more than 50, 000 women a year seek refuge in shelters.
These staggering numbers are not being appropriately addressed by the government (in 2006 Stephen Harper slashed Status of Women Canada’s budget, the organization which provides funding to many organizations that aim to help abused women). That said, there are thousands of individuals, shelters and organizations that operate under the assumption that violence against women is not a given or an accepted fact of life. Through awareness campaigns, counselling of clients, resettling of clients, lobbying of the government and other work, they hope to not only reduce violence against women in Canada and around the world but to eliminate it.
There are days of action, like November 25, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and December 6, which marks the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre and is also the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada.
There are over 500 shelters across Canada providing shelter and other services to abused women every day. Not-for-profit organizations like the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children, the Women’s Counselling, Referral, and Education Centre, the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women and Women Against Violence Against Women in Vancouver also work tirelessly to help the victims of violence against women. Though the situation seems bleak, many are doing their part to vanquish the elephant.