Calls for Canada to add femicide to criminal code amid gender-based violence epidemic in Mississauga and Brampton

By

Published June 29, 2023 at 2:56 pm

four brampton teens charged two home invasions car thefts

Pressure is building for Ottawa to recognize femicide in the criminal code as thousands of women are suffering from intimate partner violence in Mississauga and Brampton.

The City of Brampton declared a gender-based and intimate partner violence epidemic last week, calling on the Region of Peel to follow suit after the killing of Brampton woman Davinder Kaur was recorded and posted online.

Coun. Navjit Kaur Brar says the high-profile killing has brought concerns about the growing number of gender-based violence incidents to the forefront and renewed calls to see Canada add femicide to the criminal code.

“Twenty-two countries specifically reference (femicide) in their criminal legislation, but Canada isn’t one of them,” Brar said in an interview with Insauga.com.

Brampton City Council is urging the federal government to add femicide as its own criminal charge in the hopes of bringing awareness to the epidemic and finding justice for victims.

Countries including Mexico, Honduras and Argentina have included femicide in their criminal codes, which can be defined as the killing of females, primarily by men. Brar said that adding a distinction between homicide and femicide to the Criminal Code of Canada could provide a better picture of the scope of the epidemic, calling the number of reported cases “just the tip of the iceberg.”

Data from Peel Regional Police shows that some 78 per cent of intimate partner violence victims in Mississauga and Brampton are women.

Police received 17,000 calls related to family and intimate violence in 2021 alone and saw a 3.5 per cent increase in the rate of intimate partner violence between 2016 and 2021.

Sharon Devine with Catholic Family Services and the Safe Centre of Peel said there was a “significant” increase in intimate partner violence during the COVID-19 pandemic as victims were locked down and isolated.

There were 1,000 women who came to the Safe Centre of Peel last year for help, and Devine says “that for every woman who comes forward, there are six others who don’t.”

“So we’re talking about thousands of women in this community that are affected,” she told Brampton City Council.

Of those 1,000 women, 400 were between the ages of 30 and 39 with most of them raising children. Another 50 of those cases were deemed “high-risk support cases,”

Devine said. She said that there is a woman strangled in the Region of Peel, and that “the next step after strangulation is murder.”

Brar said the most dangerous time in a domestic violence situation is when someone is planning to leave the abuse, which can escalate to femicide.

There were four femicides in Peel last year and another two in 2023.

Two women have been killed by intimate partners this year in Peel, and Davinder Kaur’s death was the third suspected femicide of a South Asian woman from the region since September.

While violence against women is far from isolated to just one community, Brar said there is also a stigma in some cultural groups for victims of violence to come forward. Devine added that women often feel they are at fault for their abuse, but that trend is starting to wane through education and community support.

“So often women feel like it’s their fault. If they were just a better woman, if they were just a better spouse, if they were just a better mother maybe this abuse wouldn’t happen to them,” Devine said. “And now, women are getting the message that it’s not their fault – that violence in relationships is not acceptable in our community.”

The investigation into Davinder Kaur’s death is ongoing anyone with information regarding the stabbing or has surveillance or dashcam footage from the area to contact investigators at 905-453-2121 ext. 3205.

GoFundMe page has been started to raise funds and help with funeral arrangements and support Kaur’s children.

Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling Peel CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visiting www.peelcrimestoppers.ca.

INsauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising