Advocacy for Women Who Have Experienced Violence

by Kamaljit Lehal

[Excerpt taken from Kamal’s article for the Trial Lawyers Association of BC (TLABC)’s publication, The Verdict, Issue 169]

Advocacy on behalf of women who have experienced violence has been occurring for many years. This advocacy takes roots in the quest for equality, the hope being that if women are equals then violence against them, rather than not be tolerated, simply would not occur.

However, centuries of deep-rooted oppression of women have made this goal challenging to attain. The reality is that advocating for the safety of women has been a hard-fought battle with some wins and many setbacks along the way. Even now, strategic legal challenges are being mounted to underscore the ongoing legal disadvantages that women continue to face when fleeing violence(1). Advocacy is essential for the safety and well-being of women who have experienced violence.

Statistics reveal time and time again that a woman is more likely to be abused, sexually assaulted, and killed than a man.

The focus of this article is deliberately on women who are victims of interpersonal violence and/or sexual assaults. Police data for 2018 record that 99,452 people in Canada experienced intimate partner violence, women were the vast majority of those who experienced this form of violence, accounting for 79% of the survivors(2). Likewise, police data from the same year indicate that women in Canada are overrepresented among victims of intimate partner homicides. Of 945 intimate partner homicides, between 2008 and 2018, about 8 in 10 involved female victims(3). As for sexual-assaults, the same police-reported data for 2018 show that rates of intimate partner sexual assault were almost 30 times higher for women than men. Rates of sexual assaults were the highest among women aged 15 to 24(4). The rate of sexual assault among Indigenous women is almost three times as high as the rate among non-Indigenous women(5). The statistics go on and on, consistently revealing that women are at higher risk of violence overall than men.

Read full article here (pdf version).