Dr. Swann Member Statement on Violence against Women and Girls – 24 November 2016

Taken from the Alberta Hansard for Thursday, November 24, 2016.

Member Statement – Violence against Women and Girls

Dr. Swann: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It’s my honour to stand, too, and speak to International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Around the world mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers are at risk of injury simply because they are female. In Canada alone the statistics are horrifying. Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence. On any given night in Canada 3,500 women and

2,700 children live in shelters because it isn’t safe at home, and on any given night 300 women and children are turned away from shelters that are already full in Canada. Finally, every week a woman is killed by her intimate partner in this country.

Violence includes the far more common psychological abuse, trauma every bit as damaging as physical trauma, causing fear, anxiety, and even suicide among women and their children. These may appear to be distant acts committed by anonymous people, but the women suffering, often in silence, are our friends, our neighbours, our family, our co-workers.

Right here in this Chamber the hon. Member for Calgary-North West has to be guarded physically because of the utterly contemptuous threat to her life. Tomorrow is not only a recognition of this widespread violence; it’s also a commitment to end the violence, a task that falls to all of us.

Silence is complicity. Strong supportive voices, especially from men and boys, must be heard to say that misogyny, whether oral, in print, in social media cannot be tolerated. Awareness, education, and advocacy are tools used to fight this, but we in this Assembly have the power to do more. We can pass bills, reduce poverty, increase access to education and life skills for girls and boys, and ensure stable, safe living environments for women and children, as well as improve the criminal justice response. By speaking and acting together against violence wherever it occurs, by increasing the supports available to women and the children they care for, we will end violence against women.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. [Standing ovation]