Failure to address cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women an
international shame, say leading human rights groups
VANCOUVER, Feb. 22, 2012 /CNW/ - Canada and British Columbia are failing
to deal with the human rights crisis of disappearances and murders of
Aboriginal women and girls says Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) and
the B.C. CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
Women) Group in a recent report to the United Nations.
"The disappearances and murders of Aboriginal women and girls in Canada
are a national tragedy, rooted in racism and sexism," says Laura
Holland of the Aboriginal Women's Action Network, a B.C. CEDAW Group
member. "Aboriginal, women's, anti-violence and human rights
organizations have demanded accountability and action from the
provincial, territorial and federal governments for more than a decade
now. But, Canada has not taken adequate action to improve police
response or the conditions that make Aboriginal women and girls
vulnerable to violence and unable to escape it."
The Native Women's Association of Canada has documented over 600
disappearances and murders of Aboriginal women and girls over the last
thirty years, and half of the murder cases remain unsolved.
"Violence against Aboriginal women and girls is extreme," says Kasari
Govender, Executive Director of West Coast Legal Education and Action
Fund (LEAF) and member of the B.C. CEDAW Group. "Homicide rates for
Aboriginal women are almost seven times higher than for non-Aboriginal
"This is an ongoing crisis," says Govender. "Aboriginal women and girls
continue to go missing and be murdered, and their disappearances and
murders are dealt with by governments, police and courts as though they
just don't matter."
Gail Davidson of Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada says, "Since 2003, human
rights treaty bodies have repeatedly called on Canada to take concrete
steps to address the high rates of violence, to remedy the social and
economic inequality of Aboriginal women and girls, and to provide equal
access to the protection of the law and to remedies for violations.
"In the international community, failure to address this human rights
crisis has sullied Canada's reputation," says Davidson. "Canada cannot
sustain its reputation as a country that safeguards the rights of all
unless our governments acknowledge these human rights violations and
take concrete, immediate steps to correct them."
LRWC and the B.C. CEDAW Group have asked the United Nations Committee on
the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to urge Canada to take
effective action immediately.
The report, "Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls in British
Columbia and Canada", has been submitted to the UN Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Committee is reviewing
Canada's compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in Geneva today.
Find a copy of the report at: <http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/docs/ngos/BCCEDAWGroup_LRWC_Canada80.pdf>
Lawyers Rights Watch Canada is a committee of lawyers who promote human
rights and the rule of law internationally by protecting advocacy
rights. LRWC campaigns for advocates who are in danger because of their
human rights advocacy, engages in research and education and works in
cooperation with other human rights organizations. LRWC has Special
Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United
The B.C. CEDAW Group is a coalition of women's non‐governmental and non‐profit British
Columbia organizations that are committed to advancing the equality
interests of women and girls.
The coalition first came together in 2002 to prepare a submission on
British Columbia for the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of
Discrimination against Women, on the occasion of the Committee's 2003
review of Canada's compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
Women. The B.C. CEDAW Group subsequently made submissions regarding the rights
of women in British Columbia to the Human Rights Committee in 2005, the
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 2006, and the
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 2008,
as well as a follow‐up report to the CEDAW Committee in 2010.
The 2012 B.C. CEDAW Group includes: The Poverty and Human Rights Centre,
Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C., Aboriginal Women's Action
Network, Hospital Employees' Union, Justice for Girls, Vancouver
Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregivers Rights, Vancouver Rape
Relief and Women's Shelter, Canadian Association of Sexual Assault
Centres, B.C. and Yukon Region, West Coast Women's Legal Education and
SOURCE BC Committee on the Elimination of the Discrimination Against Women
For further information:
Laura Holland, Aboriginal Women's Action Network (604) 442.2505.
Kasari Govender, West Coast LEAF (604) 684.8772
Gail Davidson, Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada (604) 738.0338