The elusive goal of ending violence against women
The consequences are profound and ensure a fastidious and resilient cycle of violence. In regions of endemic conflict, many combatants are reported to have been victims of atrocities themselves during “recruitment”. An alarming reflection of the repetitive nature of domestic violence.
Indeed, civilians—mostly women and children—are far more likely to be casualties than combatants in today’s theatre of war. As conflicts rage in every corner of the globe, this is a startling and deeply disconcerting fact. Former UN peacekeeping commander Major-General Patrick Cammaert notes that, “it has probably become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in armed conflict.
Frequently, geopolitical instability confers further atrocities on the most vulnerable. It is estimated that almost three quarters of human trafficking victims are women and girls and three quarters of them are sold into the sex trade.
But this is not just a problem in war zones far from us. Here in Canada, despite our relative stability, human trafficking is on the rise. Mirroring global patterns, the majority of victims are female. and are forced into the sex trade. With obscene predictability, most are Indigenous.
Effects of colonization
The links between violence and colonization are profound. In Canada, Indigenous women and girls are forced to navigate the social landscape of a settler society which leaves many vulnerable to violence. This abhorrent reality is borne out in the statistics and headlines that are readily accessible, and that continue to play out on a regular basis. This is inexcusable but nevertheless remains a situation that only seems to be worsening.
The Indigenous experience in Canada is not unique. Indigenous women around the world face similar challenges with remarkably similar outcomes. The colonization process can be insidious—most non-Indigenous Canadians, for instance, believe that the colonial period is over—but the effects are deep, and for those living in a settler society, never-ending.
We all need to step up
The struggle for empowerment and gender equality is global. There is a role for all to play.
Those of us in positions of power and privilege hold a strong responsibility to act as change-makers. Whether in our homes, our communities, or by lobbying our government to do more on the international stage, there remains much work to be done.