Ottawa’s focus on data a good step in addressing gender-based violence

Posted on June 23, 2017 in Equality Delivery System – Opinion/Editorial – We know gender-based violence is a pressing problem in our country, but Ottawa is right that we can’t solve it until we better understand its dimensions.
June 22, 2017.   By

One out of every two Canadian women over the age of 15 has experienced some kind of physical or sexual violence — according to statistics that were collected in 1993, the last time a large-scale survey was conducted on the issue of violence against women in this country.

An epidemic such as gender-based violence can’t be solved without first understanding who is affected and how. So it’s encouraging that the Trudeau government’s sensible new strategy on gender-based violence, which was announced this week, will focus foremost on modernizing research and collecting up-to-date data. These are crucial steps in addressing a deep-rooted problem ignored by Ottawa for far too long.

The government is committing roughly three-quarters of the $101 million it earmarked for this issue in its March budget to the creation of The Gender-Based Violence Knowledge Centre. The hub’s primary focus will be working to streamline efforts of federal departments and to collect and share data.

It’s something that policy-watchers have long called for. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, for instance, concluded following a 2013 study that “the difficulty of collecting data about violence against women has been a barrier to progress in ending that violence.”

Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef’s announcement included other positive steps, such as a commitment to researching the particular impacts of gender-based violence on visible minorities, LGBT and Indigenous people; and devoting $2.4 million over five years to ensure RCMP officers receive gender and culture sensitivity training. The need for such policies was exemplified this week by a horrifying report from New York-based Human Rights Watch that detailed 64 cases of police mistreatment of Indigenous women in Saskatchewan.

The government has also committed to making the growing problem of online violence and harassment a research focus, and promised $9.5 million over five years for prevention, including addressing children’s issues and teen dating violence, a disturbingly common issue that disproportionately affects girls.

These investments are an important start. But, as Monsef rightly noted, the federal government cannot tackle this problem on its own. In many important areas, progress will depend on provincial cooperation.

For instance, it will require inter-provincial collaboration to ensure women in every part of Canada have comparable access to shelter services, which currently vary widely across the country.

Moreover, a coordinated approach with the provinces, which oversee education, could help root out the social attitudes that compound inequalities and create the conditions for gender-based violence to exist. Teaching consent in schools, for example, is often cited as a key to tackling so-called rape culture.

But while there is still much work to do, the government deserves credit for making data collection a priority. Some 70 per cent of spousal violence and the vast majority of sexual assaults do not get reported to police. We know gender-based violence is a pressing problem in our country, but Ottawa is right that we can’t solve it until we better understand its dimensions.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

This entry was posted on Friday, June 23rd, 2017 at 11:45 am and is filed under Equality Delivery System. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply