Canada's failure to address violence against Aboriginal women a grievous violation of human rights | National Union of Public and General Employees

Canada's failure to address violence against Aboriginal women a grievous violation of human rights

"Despite the seriousness of the situation, the Canadian State has not sufficiently implemented measures to ensure that cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women are effectively investigated and prosecuted,” said CEDAW members Niklas Bruun and Barbara Bailey.

Ottawa (9 March 2015) — On the eve of International Women’s Day, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) released a report that concludes that Canada’s ongoing failure to address violence against Aboriginal women and girls constitutes a grievous violation of their human rights.  The UN's CEDAW oversees the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women by the 188 countries that have ratified it—Canada ratified it in 1981.

First UN human rights inquiry on this topic in a Western nation

The report is in response to a request in 2011 by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) for the UN's CEDAW to investigate the extreme violence experienced by Canadian Aboriginal women and girls. It is the first UN human rights inquiry into violence against Aboriginal women and girls in a wealthy Western nation.

Failure to act by Canadian government

“Aboriginal women and girls are more likely to be victims of violence than men or non-Aboriginal women, and they are more likely to die as a result.  Yet, despite the seriousness of the situation, the Canadian State has not sufficiently implemented measures to ensure that cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women are effectively investigated and prosecuted,” said CEDAW members Niklas Bruun and Barbara Bailey in the press release for the report.  

Call for action to address root causes of violence against Aboriginal women and girls

CEDAW's report directs Canada to take immediate action to address the root causes of violence, which include the social and economic disadvantages suffered by Aboriginal women and girls.  The report notes that the Canadian police and justice system have failed to protect Aboriginal women and hold offenders to account.  The Committee supports a national public inquiry as a way of developing a national action plan to address the issue.

“Canada told the Committee that it is strongly opposed to the development of a national action plan,” says Shelagh Day of FAFIA in its joint release with NWAC.  “But the Committee recommends that Canada establish a national public inquiry in order to develop an integrated national plan of action, and a coordinated mechanism for implementation and monitoring it.  This is the step that is so clearly necessary now.”

More Information

CEDAW Report

Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA)

Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC)

National Union Advisory Committee on Women's Issues

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