A report from the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative shows more than three quarters of Canada’s domestic homicide victims were women. (File photo by the Advocate.)

A report from the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative shows more than three quarters of Canada’s domestic homicide victims were women. (File photo by the Advocate.)

Women in vulnerable demographics most at risk of domestic homicide, study finds

More than three quarters of Canada’s domestic homicide victims were women, according to a new report released Thursday that said belonging to some specific demographic groups elevates the risk of a violent death even more.

The report from the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative, a multi-year project studying domestic homicides with a focus on vulnerable groups, tracked data from across the country and analyzed relevant deaths between 2010 and 2015.

Of the 476 people slain in a domestic homicide during that time, the report found 76 per cent of them were women or girls.

The study focused particularly on four vulnerable groups — those of Indigenous heritage, immigrants and refugees, people living in remote or rural areas, and children. Taken together, people belonging to those four groups comprised 53 per cent of homicide victims killed during that time period, the report found.

Myrna Dawson, report co-author and University of Guelph professor of public policy and criminal justice, said the numbers should serve as a wakeup call to a society that may have been lulled into a false sense of security about the safety of women in general and vulnerable populations in particular.

“There is much talk about the need for improved resources for women and children experiencing violence, but I think sometimes that the general public feels that we have addressed this issue,” Dawson said.

“These numbers are a stark reminder that, while we may have tried to improve our responses to domestic homicide for which women are clearly the primary victims, our efforts have fallen short somewhere along the line, particularly for some groups.”

Some of those shortcomings emerge when looking at the vulnerable groups highlighted in the study, she said, adding anyone hoping to address gender-based violence needs to examine the unique challenges those populations face rather than trying to devise a one-size-fits-all solution.

The data on homicide victims in rural and remote areas, for instance, suggests a need to rethink government responses to firearms.

Domestic slayings in such communities accounted for 22 per cent or nearly a quarter of the homicides in the study, she said. Females were targeted in 78 per cent of those cases, the research found, but unlike in the rest of Canada where stabbings were the most common cause of death, killers in remote communities resorted to firearms most often.

Governments funnelling money to combat guns and gangs in urban environments should take note of the data, Dawson said, adding the numbers suggest a need to direct some of those funds to limit violence in rural areas as well.

Other barriers for those in remote areas include limited employment opportunities and lack of resources to help people leave abusive relationships, the report said.

Similar risk factors were identified for immigrant and refugee populations, who may be isolated due to language barriers or lack appropriate or culturally relevant community supports.

For Indigenous women, for whom the rate of domestic homicide was twice as high as the non-Indigenous population during the report’s time frame, the research found poor socioeconomic conditions and systemic racism play a role in keeping people in violent circumstances.

In order to provide meaningful help for people at risk of domestic violence, Dawson said everyone from researchers to service providers need to start looking at broader societal forces and not just individual circumstances.

“We need to recognize that our efforts to address risk and safety for those experiencing violence are not working well,” she said. “We need to examine more nuanced and targeted ways to better respond so that we capture the lived realities of those experiencing violence the most. “

The report also found that 13 per cent of cases surveyed involved the death of so-called collateral domestic homicide victims, typically family members, new partners, friends or neighbours of the intended target. The children of the intended victim made up the bulk of those deaths, the report said.

Dawson said the risks faced by Canadian women are generally in line with global figures released last month by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

That study found that 58 per cent of global homicides involving female victims in 2017 were domestic slayings. Dawson said the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative intends to continue surveying data until at least 2021.

One vulnerable population not factored into the report’s analysis was disabled women, a demographic that both Dawson and Statistics Canada have identified as being at particular risk of violence in the home.

A report released earlier this year found disabled people were twice as likely to experience domestic violence as non-disabled counterparts. It also noted that disabled women were more than twice as likely to report spousal violence than non-disabled women, though homicide rates were not specifically explored.

Bonnie Brayton, National Executive Director of the Disabled Women’s Network, said omitting this demographic from a discussion of vulnerable populations is a “common and problematic practice.”

But she said a burgeoning interest in research on disabled women and girls will hopefully address this shortcoming while helping to broaden the conversation about gender-based domestic violence.

“This report absolutely has gaps, but the implication that should stand out is that intersectional feminist research is the way forward if we are going to see a shift in female homicides,” Brayton said.

Just Posted

A gofundme account has been set up for Lilac the husky, of Blackfalds. (Photo from gofundme)
Dog ends up in coma after a walk in Blackfalds

Dog finds a baggie that likely contained drugs

(Contributed)
Red Deer man reported missing

Red Deer RCMP seek public’s assistance

An attendee of the Maskwacis memorial held on May 31, 2021, for the 215 school children found in Kamloops, B.C. the week before, holds a teddy bear. <ins>The grandstand was filled with 215 bears to represent the lost children. They were offered to residential school survivors at the end of the memorial. </ins>(Photo illustration by Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ermineskin residential school survivor: ‘It just brings me back to the cries at night’

Discovery in Kamloops of remains of 215 children a painful time for survivors

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven before a confidence vote in the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm, Sweden, Monday June 21, 2021. Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven faces a no-confidence vote in the Riksdag parliament, after the Left Party said this week that it had lost confidence in Lofven and his center-left minority government. (Anders Wiklund / TT via AP)
Swedish PM loses confidence vote, sparking uncertainty

Prime minister has one week to call new election or ask parliament speaker to find a new government

A large number of supporters were out Saturday at a rally intended to bring awareness about including Hinduism in the grade 2 portion of the K-6 draft curriculum. As it stands now, Hinduism won’t be taught until grade 6 in the proposed draft curriculum. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Video: Rally to support adding Hinduism to draft curriculum draws crowd in Red Deer

The Hindu community in Red Deer came out in droves on Saturday… Continue reading

Inuk elder Reepa Evic-Carleton light a qulliq, a traditional oil lamp, at a public ceremony to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day on the bank of the Ottawa River behind the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. on Thursday, June 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Kawai
Singh blasts Liberal ‘hypocrisy’ on National Indigenous Peoples Day

OTTAWA — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he believes the Liberal government… Continue reading

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Border measures start easing in July for fully vaccinated Canadians

OTTAWA — Fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents returning to Canada will… Continue reading

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Canada to unveil travel rules for fully vaccinated citizens, permanent residents

OTTAWA — Canada is set to detail what quarantine rules citizens and… Continue reading

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky poses for a photo in Toronto on Monday, October 17, 2016. Two of Canada’s most prominent athletes are part of the ownership group of a new Las Vegas National Lacrosse League franchise. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michelle Siu
Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash join forces with Las Vegas lacrosse team

League’s 15th team will start play in the fall of 2022

Orlando City and Montreal Impact players take a knee before their MLS match, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
CF Montreal finds two new home venues as Gold Cup comes to Fort Lauderdale

Exploria Stadium has been Toronto FC’s home field this year

Police and firefighters respond after a truck drove into a crowd of people injuring them during The Stonewall Pride Parade and Street Festival in Wilton Manors, Fla., on Saturday, June 19, 2021. WPLG-TV reports that the driver of the truck was taken into custody. (Chris Day/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
Officials say deadly Pride parade crash was not intentional

Driver and the victims were a part of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus family

FILE - In this April 18, 2017, file photo, a conference worker passes a demo booth at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, in San Jose, Calif. Facebook is launching podcasts and live audio streams in the U.S. Monday, June 21, 2021, to keep users engaged on its platform and to compete with emerging rivals.(AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)
Facebook launches podcasts, live audio service

Handful of podcasts will first be available to people in the U.S.

Intricate cloth masks with Indigenous design made by Teresa Snow. Facebook/ Masks4Maskwacis
‘Masks 4 Maskwacis’ wins Northern Lights Volunteer Award

The group received recognition for their efforts to support their community during COVID-19.

Most Read