Canadian women and girls killed by violence up 24% compared to 2019: report

There have been at least 850 women and girls killed in the country between 2018 and 2022, according to a new report (Courtesy: Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability)


Nearly 200 girls and women were killed by violence last year as femicide continues to rise across the country, according to a new report. 

The Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability (CFOJA) released a new study on Thursday with statistics and analysis on sex/gender-related killings of women and girls in Canada from 2018 to 2022. 

Femicide refers to the killings of women and girls because of their sex or gender. The most common type of femicide is intimate partner femicide, followed by familial femicide and femicides that occurred outside the context of intimacy, including victims and accused who were friends, acquaintances or strangers. 

One main goal of the report is to see femicide named and enshrined in legislation and/or the Criminal Code of Canada. 

There were at least 184 women and girls killed in Canada in 2022 and an additional 13 deaths classified as suspicious where investigations remain ongoing.

“In fact, the number of women and girls killed involving male accused in 2022 represents a 27 percent increase compared to those numbers in 2019, pre-COVID. And we’re still counting,” the report reads. 

Overall, there have been at least 850 women and girls killed in the country between 2018 and 2022, according to the report. In addition, at least 868 children lost their mothers to femicide in the past five years alone, according to the report.

“A woman’s death should be important on its own,” CFOJA founder and University of Guelph Professor Dr. Myrna Dawson said to UofG News. “But understanding femicide is about recognizing the impacts these deaths also have on the people left behind. It reverberates for decades in communities and in the life outcomes of those trying to survive these losses, especially children.”

When looking at 2022, the death toll is up compared to both 2021 and 2020 when 173 and 160 deaths were reported, respectively. 

However, before the pandemic there was a slight drop in the total number of cases reported with 137 deaths in 2019 compared to 148 deaths in 2018.

Last year, there was an average of 15 females killed every month in Canada with January having the highest number of deaths (22) and April having the lowest total at seven. 

The largest group of women and girls was killed in Ontario (36%), followed by British Columbia (14%), and the smallest group was in Nunavut (0.5%).

In 2022, the report says there were 150 women and girls killed by violence involving accused males, with an average of 13 females killed each month. 

The highest rate of females killed by violence based on a population of 100,000 women were in Nunavut (5.06), Saskatchewan (2.53), and Manitoba (1.99), while the lowest rates were in Newfoundland and Labrador (0.38), Nova Scotia (0.39), and Quebec (0.44).

Ontario saw the largest proportion of women and girls killed at 39 per cent, followed by B.C., Quebec and Alberta, each with a rate of 13 per cent. 

Meanwhile, 58 per cent of females were killed in urban areas, while 25 per cent were killed in rural areas and 17 per cent in small towns. 

Females between 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 years old saw the highest rate of deaths at 23 per cent each last year. The average age of female victims was 42 years old. 

Focusing on the age of the accused males, out of the 133 cases where the age was known, their ages ranged from 15 to 82 years old, with the average age of 37. 

Out of the 86 cases where the ethnicity of the victim was known, almost equal proportions of victims were white (34%), racialized minorities (34%) and Indigenous (33%).

Almost two-thirds of the women killed were in a current or former intimate partner relationship with the accused, followed by females killed by other family members. 

The relationship status was known for 42 of the 52 intimate partner femicide victims. Fifty-two per cent involved victims who were current or former legal spouses of the accused, while 24 per cent were current or former common-law partners and 24 per cent were current or former dating partners.

Information on the method of killing was known for 48 per cent of victims, with 51 per cent being stabbed, followed by shootings (32%) and beatings (7%). 

The CFOJA is calling for more comprehensive data to be recorded on homicides to accurately determine cases that were a sex/gender-related killing or femicide.

“In part, this is because data-collection instruments were historically designed to capture male-on-male homicides, and, despite minor changes over time, this remains true today. Moreover, they are more focused on the administrative needs of governments, not prevention outcomes, a situation that must change,” reads the report. 

The CFOJA argues that law and governing bodies should facilitate more evidence-based research and data, and can do this by learning from those with relevant knowledge and making data accessible to those who play a role in preventing and responding to male violence against females.



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