November 25th is the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Gender-based violence is a human rights violation that has tremendous costs, impacting national budgets and overall development, and encompassing a multitude of intolerable facts. Around the world, 19 per cent of women between 15 and 49 years of age have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in the last 12 months.
What are the different forms of violence against women?
Defining and knowing violence against women is the first step to take action.
Intimate partner violence: This is the most common form of violence experienced by women globally. 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner. In 2012, 1 in 2 women killed were killed by their partners or family. Only 2 in 3 countries have outlawed domestic violence yet, and 37 countries exempt rape perpetrators from prosecution when they are married to the victim. In Canada, every 6 days a woman is killed by her intimate partner.
Sexual violence and harassment: It includes unwanted sexual advances, sexual harassment, rape, sexual abuse of children, forced marriage, including child marriage. In some countries, 1 in 3 adolescent girls report their first sexual experience as being forced. In the European Union, 45% to 55% of women have experienced sexual harassment since the age of 15.
Human trafficking: Millions of women and girls are trapped into modern-day slavery. 71% of all trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls. 3 out of 4 trafficked women and girls are sexually exploited.
Female genital mutilation: This practice has declined by 24 per cent over the last 15 years, but in some countries, more than 1 in 3 girls between 15 and 19 years of age still undergo the mutilation. At least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone the mutilation, most often before the age of 5.
Child marriage: It usually puts an end to the girl's education and her right to make life choices. Girls who marry in childhood are at great risk for intimate partner violence. Almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday. 4 in 10 girls in West and Central Africa were married before age 18.
"It is by increasing awareness of the causes and consequences of violence, and by advocating for gender equality that we will be able to protect women effectively," says Betty Carrasco, National Vice-President of the TWU, USW National Local 1944, and Chair of the Women of Steel Committee. "The Women of Steel call on the Canadian government to develop dedicated national action plans to address the ongoing violence against women."
If you or someone you know is dealing with gender-based violence, visit www.sheltersafe.ca to find out about resources in your province or territory. Given the urgent needs of abused women leaving violence, the government announced this week a National Housing Strategy that will commit 25% of investments to support projects dedicated to assist women and girls. This might make a significant difference in the lives of these women.
Your USW Local 1944 Women of Steel Committee is here for support: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach out to the USW anti-harassment counsellors and facilitators to assist in the mediation of complaints or to provide training on handling gender-based violence.
District 3, Western Provinces and Territories
3920 Norland Ave., Suite 300, Vancouver, BC V5G 4K7
Phone: 604-683-1117 - Fax: 604-688-6416
District 6, Ontario and Atlantic Provinces
200 Ronson Dr., 3rd floor, Etobicoke, ON M9W 5Z9
Phone: 416-243-8792 - Fax: 416-243-9573
District 5, Quebec
565 boulevard Crémazie Est, Bureau 5100, Montréal, Québec H2M 2V8
Phone: 514-382-9596 - Fax: 514-382-2290
Toll free: 1-800-361-5756
Canadian National Office
234 Eglinton Ave. East, Suite 800
Toronto, Ontario M4P 1K7
Phone: 416-487-1571 - Fax: 416-482-5548
Violence against women and girls is not inevitable, that is why the fight and prevention must go on. For more information about the many possible ways to take action, please visit: http://1944.fyi/MZcBGn
The Telecommunications Workers Union, United Steelworkers National Local 1944