Survivors of domestic violence, Aboriginal women, and MPs were among people who rallied in Ottawa Thursday and called for a national plan to end violence against women. The United Nations has called on all countries to have plans by 2015.
“Working on a broad political, economic, structural response is critical,” said Susan Young, director of the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH). She said a national action plan should include legislation, funding, and a public inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
Nisha Dansal, who co-chairs OAITH’s survivors’ advisory committee, said survivors should help develop a national plan.
“We are the survivors, we have the experience, so we know what we need,” said Dansal, who said she was in an abusive relationship for 23 years.
“I was completely isolated from the outside world,” she said. “I wasn’t allowed to say ‘Hello’ to my neighbour.”
Dansal said she left the relationship in 2004.
“If I wouldn’t have left him, I would have been killed, and my daughters too.”
According to OAITH, a woman is murdered by her spouse in Canada every six days, a stat derived from a federal government fact sheet, based on 2009 Statistics Canada data.
“On any given day, there’s 8,200 women that find themselves in shelters with children, so whether it affects you directly or not, all of us know someone that it does affect,” said Eva Kratochvil, who also co-chairs the survivors advisory committee.
NDP MP Niki Ashton and Green Party leader Elizabeth May joined the rally at Parliament Hill. Rona Ambrose, minister for the status of women, was not available for comment.