Femicide Rates Rising During COVID-19 Pandemic, Says Guelph Researcher | The Canadian News

A gender-based violence expert from the University of Guelph says femicide has increased in Canada and around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Myrna Dawson points to repeated blockades and lack of access to services and shelter, as well as tense domestic environments, to the steady increase in sex and gender related killings of women and girls.

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“The numbers show increases over the three years, before COVID, onset of COVID and as COVID continues, and in that context, it is something that should concern us,” Dawson said.

He said he is not only concerned about the increase in numbers, but also that the numbers only capture women and girls who were murdered. “This does not reflect the increases in those who have suffered and continue to experience violence during the pandemic.”

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Dawson is the director of the Center for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence at the University of Guelph. She also serves as the director of the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability, which is a group focused on understanding the causes and consequences of femicide.

According to the group, 92 women and girls were killed in Canada in the first six months of 2021, up from 78 during the same period in 2020 and 60 in 2019.

“That’s an increase of 32 murdered women and girls from 2019 to 2021,” Dawson said. “Canada is not the only country experiencing these continuous increases in numbers. It’s a global trend. “

He added that women have been hit the hardest by the pandemic when it comes to layoffs and reduced access to child care.

Dawson also said the closings and stay-at-home orders have negatively changed the dynamics and stress at home.

“However, these orders do not suddenly turn previously non-violent men into violent men,” Dawson said.

“Instead, it has likely exacerbated the violence that some women and children have already been living with and limited their options in terms of dealing with it, as they may have done prior to the pandemic.”

Thursday marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the start of the Global 16 Days Campaign, which raises awareness about male violence against women.

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In a statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that $ 600 million has been earmarked to develop a national action plan to address gender-based violence.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have invested nearly $ 300 million to support shelters, sexual assault centers and organizations that help women and children who experience violence,” Trudeau said.

“This funding will ensure that these organizations can provide the necessary services and support to those who need it most.”

Data is still being collected on femicide rates in the second half of 2021.

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But Dawson said the pandemic is just one factor and without real social changes, femicide rates will remain the same or even increase.

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“Although the pandemic has changed the dynamics of violence in some way, the experiences, consequences and solutions have not changed significantly, so everything that feminists and anti-violence against women organizations have been saying for decades still it applies, ”he said.

“Gender equality or equity is key. We cannot fully prevent violence without addressing the contributions of misogyny and male rights. “

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