According to local television network CTV News, the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability (CFOJA) data on the hate crime "femicide" – a contraction of female and homicide – showed that 850 women and girls had been killed from 2018 to 2022, equating to a rate of one every 48 hours.
In cases where the suspects were identified, 88 percent of the "primary accused" were male. CFOJA data cited intimate-partner violence as the most common in these cases, followed by familial femicide and non-intimate femicide.
"A major finding is that the killing of women and girls involving a male accused in Canada increased by 27 percent in 2022 compared to the pre-COVID year, 2019," the report stated. As per the study, the average age of females killed by males was 42 years, but certain age groups were over-represented.
"For example, women aged 25 to 34 years comprised 21 percent of the victims yet only 14 percent of the general female population, indicating a greater risk of femicide," the report stated. It also indicated that the largest portion of male accused were aged 25 to 35 years (23 percent).
"This is one example of how Canada lags behind other countries in its response to male violence against women and girls," CFOJA founder Dr. Myrna Dawson said in a news release. (Related: Hate crimes against Christians becoming commonplace in Canada.)
Another disturbing fact included in the report was the fact that 868 Canadian children, referred to as "living victims," are left without a mother due to femicide.
"A woman's death should be important on its own," noted Dawson. "But understanding femicide is about recognizing the impacts these deaths also have on the people left behind. It reverberates for decades in communities and the life outcomes of those trying to survive these losses, especially children."
Twenty countries already use the term femicide to classify the killing of women and girls by men.
Advocacy groups are calling for the term femicide to be enshrined in legislation and/or the Criminal Code of Canada.
"What I find most disappointing is that we have a year later still not really moved this issue forward in the way we would like to," said Megan Walker, vice chair of the London Police Service Board and former executive director of the London Abused Women's Center. She had been campaigning to get femicide added to the Code since June of last year.
"It's incredibly important to have femicide in the Criminal Code and also defined. It would assist the criminal justice system and police officers, specifically in laying hate-motivated (charges). It would allow for a better understanding of what femicide is," she said.
Canada's Department of Justice said the Criminal Code does address gender-based violence through offenses of general application, such as assault, sexual assault and homicide. It noted that the provisions protect everyone, regardless of sex, gender identity or gender expression.
"The Criminal Code's sentencing provisions ensure that offenders who commit violence against another person because of their sex, gender identity or gender expression receive sentences that are proportionate to the gravity of the offense and the degree of responsibility of the offender," a spokesperson for the department said in a statement released on Tuesday, April 4.
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