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Action needed to combat violence against women

Posted on October 1, 2015 by Vauxhall Advance

By all accounts, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam did “everything right.”

Facing the same abusive ex-boyfriend, both reported incidents to the police and went to court to keep the man away from them.

They were still brutally murdered last week, in a small rural area outside of Ottawa — along with a third woman, Carol Culleton, who also had the misfortune of being in Basil Borutski’s life.

Borutski has a long documented history of abuse towards women – even his daughters say he is a violent man.

He was sentenced to jail for a time for choking Kuzyk. Another 30-day sentence for threatening to kill Warmerdam’s pet dog.

The women took precautions to keep him out of their lives.

It didn’t matter. In a cold, calculated fashion they were killed by Borutski, who now faces first-degree murder charges.

It’s sad, but it’s not shocking. The banality is that it’s, well, average.

Because on average, every six days a woman in Canada is killed by an intimate partner.

Statistics Canada data from 2011 show that 49 per cent of all female murder victims in Canada were killed by former or current intimate partners.

In 2011, from the 89 police-reported spousal homicides, 76 of the victims were women.

Almost 60 per cent of all dating violence happens after the woman has broken off the relationship (StatsCan 2008), while about 25 per cent of all women who are murdered by their spouse had left the relationship. In one study, half of the murdered women were killed within two months of leaving the relationship (StatsCan 2006).

Violence against women isn’t restricted to age, income, colour, religion, or other social markers. It’s something all women are at risk for.

It’s been just over a year since Shirley Parkinson was bludgeoned to death in her sleep by her husband, Donald Parkinson in Unity, Sask., in a murder-suicide.

Albertans were aghast last December after a murderous rampage across multiple locations left nine dead in Edmonton.

Yet as details emerged, the perpetrator, Phu Lam, had a long documented history of domestic violence, including against the victims of the mass murder.

In Edmonton, Nadine Skow was a 38-year-old former youth worker murdered in August by an ex-boyfriend with whom she had ended things more than a year ago.

The night she was brutally stabbed to death her screams were heard by at least one neighbour. They did nothing.

After being reported missing in November 2014, the body of Shannon Madill-Burgess was finally found this summer. Her husband has been charged with second- degree murder.

In August, 26-year-old Jonathan Martin of Calgary was charged with the murder of his common-law girlfriend Chelsea Serpentini-Harty.

And just this past week, RCMP laid first-degree murder charges against Edmonton-area man Brian Ralph Beglau, who was estranged from his wife, Melanie Susan Hunter.

These examples are just a scratch on the surface, a quick search of recent headlines. It’s not even touching upon the more than 1,200 murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada.

The irony is that the murders of Kuzyk, Warmerdam and Culleton came the day after Canadians had to settle for pre-recorded interviews with federal party leaders on women’s issues. Originally a debate had been planned – but Prime Minister Stephen Harper wouldn’t participate. Violence against women wasn’t the sole focus of the debate-turned-into-recorded-interviews, but also issues such as access to childcare, economic equality, affordable housing and poverty – issues that are intrinsically tied into ending abuse.

And it’s absolutely mind-boggling that it took over a decade for women’s shelters in Alberta to secure annual provincial funding, as announced last week, for second- stage housing for women fleeing abuse.

The line thrown out is “just leave him.” Well, that’s exactly what Kuzyk, Warmerdam and many other women have done.

That they are dead shows a profound failure by Canada to address violence against women.

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