Thursday, 07 March 2013 10:21

New Stats Canada numbers sadden Southwest Crisis Services director

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The statistics related by Stats Canada on Feb. 25 in regards to the number of reported cases of violence against women in Canada and particularly in Saskatchewan are troubling, but not exactly unexpected.


Teresa Cole, executive director of Southwest Crisis Services in Swift Current, saw the numbers and was sad.
“I wouldn’t say I was surprised, but I guess what  I thought was: a lot more work needs to be done as a community, province and country,” explained Cole.
Saskatchewan was front and centre in the Stats Canada report which looked at 2011 figures.
Saskatchewan and Manitoba, which have consistently recorded the highest provincial rates of police-reported violent crime, had rates of violence against women in 2011 that were about double the national rate. Ontario and Quebec had the lowest rates of violence against women.
“It’s only the tip of the iceberg,” added Cole. “There’s a large number of unreported cases.”
In Canada, between 2009 and 2011, rates of police-reported physical assaults against women, including common assaults and serious physical assaults, fell five per cent to 705 victims per 100,000 women. Police-reported data also show a drop in rates of attempted murders against women over this same three-year period.
In 2011, police reported about 78,000 incidents of violence against women by current or previous intimate partners, including those by spouses (common-law and legally married partners) and dating partners. The overall rate of intimate partner violence against women was 542 per 100,000 women, almost four times higher than the rate for men. Among women, rates of dating violence in 2011 were 60 per cent higher than the spousal violence rate. Rates of intimate partner homicides against women rose 19 per cent between 2010 and 2011.
However, the rate in 2011 was 15 per cent less than it was a decade earlier.
Common assaults accounted for about half of all police-reported violent crimes against women. They were followed by uttering threats, which represented another 13 per cent, serious physical assaults (10 per cent), sexual assaults involving little to no physical injury (seven per cent), and criminal harassment (stalking) (seven per cent).
To provide a comprehensive statistical picture of violence against women, this report uses two sources: police-reported data from the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey and Homicide Survey, and self-reported data from the General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization, 2009, the latest available. Trend analysis of police-reported non-lethal violence is based on the three-year UCR trend database (2009 to 2011).
The GSS on victimization found a decline in the percentage of women who reported experiencing spousal violence between 1999 and 2009, from eight per cent of women to six. This change is attributed to a decline in violence involving previous spouses. The GSS also found police were less likely to find out about spousal violence against women in 2009 than in 2004. The percentage of female victims indicating the incident was reported to police, either by themselves or someone else, dropped from 36 to 30 per cent.
Reporting to police was more likely when women had sustained an injury, when they feared for their lives, or when the abuse had gone on for some time.
Cole said there are a lot of unreported cases because the victim is getting a lot of support from family and friends and feels they can deal with the issue or perhaps feels sustaining the abuse is needed to protect someone.
“In some cases, the person said, ‘I didn’t even know I was being abused’ because of verbal and emotional abuse is something they have sustained for a long time,” she explained. “There is that cone of silence still out there.”
According to police-reported data, just over 173,600 women aged 15 and older were victims of violent crime in 2011, a rate of 1,207 female victims for every 100,000 women in the population.
“If there’s a glimmer of encouragement, it’s that usually at the age of 30 and then it subsides, but what I found interesting is that they are reporting when they are younger,” said Cole. “We have to talk about it.”
The Southwest Crisis Services is working on a project with other agencies which is still in the preliminary stages. It will look at educating people about abuse and that it is a criminal issue but also a physical, personal and mental issue. Cole said she saw a media report which quoted a Justice Canada study which stated it cost Canada $7.4 billion total a year (including policing, legal and medical costs) because of abuse.
“It’s something we can’t ignore,” noted Cole.

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Ryan Dahlman

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