31 Actions for Gender Justice: March 23 Action 23. Recommended Reading  

Action 23. Recommended Reading  

The Black Women’s Reproductive Justice defines reproductive justice as: 

The human right to control our sexuality, our gender, our work, and our reproduction. That right can only be achieved when all women and girls have the complete economic, social, and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, our families, and our communities in all areas of our lives.  

At the core of Reproductive Justice is the belief that all women have 

  1. the right to have children; 
  2. the right to not have children and; 
  3. the right to nurture the children we have in a safe and healthy environment.

    Read full article: 

    Reproductive Justice: Beyond Safe Abortions 

Seven Women in British Columbia Killed Due to Femicide in the Past Seven Weeks

Image by CTV News

With the announcement of the killing of Ma Cecilia Loreto, who was found burned in Burnaby, so far in 2021, British Columbia has registered seven women and girls killed due to violence and according to media reports the majority involved a male accused. BC tied Quebec making beginning of 2021 the most deadly for women and girls than the same period in previous three years.
 
At the end of 2020, the United Nations called on all nation states and stakeholders worldwide to take urgent steps to prevent the pandemic of femicide or gender related killings of women and gender-based violence against women. For the last decade, Battered Women’s Support Services has conducted an informal “femicide watch” assessing the trends and conditions for killings of women in British Columbia and other regions in Canada.
 
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we scaled up our informal ‘femicide watch’ to analyze systemic shortcomings and to recommend measures for prevention and intervention. There has been a statistical spike in femicide in 2021 in British Columbia and across Canada. This should be awake up call for everyone.
 
According to a tweet by the Canadian Femicide Observatory so far in 2021, 47 women and girls killed by violence, 32 of which involve male accused, 13 in which no accused yet to be documented, but majority likely male. This is higher than same period in previous three years. Society needs to do better for women, girls and people who are marginalized by their gender.

31 Actions for Gender Justice: March 22 Action 22. Increase awareness about the pandemic within the COVID-19 pandemic 

Action 22. Increase awareness about the pandemic within the COVID-19 pandemic 

Many women are at higher risk of sexual violence during the pandemic due to increased isolation and social marginalization.  

  • Pandemic stressors such as unemployment, financial stress, and isolation can increase abusive partners’ attempts to control others through sexual violence. 
  • Social distance and stay-at-home measures increases opportunities for online grooming and cybersexual violence. 
  • Sexual exploitation of an individual’s financial strain may occur, such as demands for sex in lieu of rent or in exchange for food, other resources, or a safe place to stay. 
  • Restrictions on visits and reduced number of staff in prisons or residential care settings like long-term care homes can put people at risk of sexual violence in this settings. 
  • Alcohol or drugs – which some people use to cope with the impacts of the pandemic- can be exploited by others to facilitate sexual assault. 
  • Social and physical distance has left many women and people of marginalized genders staying home in close proximity to their abusive partners. 

Because of COVID-19 and experiences of violence, survivors of sexual violence face different barriers based on their individual circumstances and intersecting oppressions like racism, colonialism and classism: 

– Reluctance to go to the hospital or access to other services due to fear of being asked about domestic violence experiences. 

– Difficulty finding private and safe times to reach out to support networks or seek help. 

– Separation of informal support like school, co-workers, or religious community. 

Gender-based violence has increased during the pandemic and reporting and seeking help can be more challenging for survivors. We’ve seen domestic violence spike since the beginning of the pandemic, but we are now also seeing an increase in the number of women killed in domestic violence cases across Canada –most of them killed by an intimate partner or a relative living in the same household. COVID-19 has exacerbated domestic violence and left survivors with fewer options to seek help.   

We need intersectional, systemic approaches and actions to support marginalized groups, including but not limited to those with disabilities, Black, Indigenous and racialized women; refugees, trans, LGBTQ2 people, and sex workers. Gender justice won’t be possible without making sure that marginalized groups have equal opportunities. 

BWSS Crisis Line operates 24/7. If you or a loved one needs help, contact us: 

604-687-1867 or toll free at 1-855-687-1868 

 

31 Actions for Gender Justice: March 20th Action 21. Stop Street Harassment

Action 21. Stop street harassment

Street harassment is unwelcome or unwanted verbal, non-verbal, physical or visual conduct based on gender or of a sexual nature which occurs with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person. It can also be based on race, disability, class, gender identity, or other social identities, and serves to remind marginalized populations of our vulnerability to assault in public space. 

It’s a form of sexualized violence that includes whistling, unwanted comments, following someone, sexual assault, groping, homophobic and transphobic slurs, racist remarks, stalking and other forms of violence, mostly by strangers in public spaces like public transit, malls, parks, crosswalks and on the sidewalk. It can happen anywhere, during the day or night, or even when there are people around. 

Women are standing in their power and taking action to end street harassment by speaking out, recording incidents and warning others. Last week, a Vancouver woman recorded a video of a man following her at close distance for 40 minutes in broad daylight. She shared the video to raise awareness about safety issues and harassment in the streets.  

In an interview with CTV News Vancouver, Angela Marie MacDougal, BWSS Executive Director, talks about this incident: 

“I think in this circumstance, we saw a woman being very resourceful, both by creating evidence, but also creating a witness. It is not to be taken lightly, at all.  

The stats tell us, and we’ve had some research in Canada within the last 10 years, where at least 80% of women and girls have experienced being followed by a stranger. It is an ongoing reminder of just how much gender-based violence is happening.” 

According to an international survey in 2015, 88% of women surveyed in Canada said they experienced harassment before the age of 17, and 79% reported being followed by a man or a group of men that made them feel unsafe.1  

By speaking out and raising awareness about street harassment, women are resisting misogynistic behaviours in the streets which is forcing the conversation about this issue.  

To learn more about safety, visit our website:  https://www.bwss.org/support/ 

Or call our crisis line for immediate emotional support and practical assistance: 

BWSS Crisis & Intake Line at 604-687-1867 or toll free at 1-855-687-1868 

 

About car share and public transit safety: 

Car Share Safety 

https://www.bwss.org/car-share-safety/ 

#TransitTuesday, Sexual Harassment on Public Transportation is a Problem We Must Solve 

https://www.bwss.org/sexual-harassment-on-public-transportation-is-a-problem-we-must-solve/ 

How can we improve public transit safety for women? 

https://www.bwss.org/how-can-we-improve-public-transit-safety-for-women/ 

1 Cornell International Survey on Street Harassment, 2014. Retrieved from: https://www.ihollaback.org/cornell-international-survey-on-street-harassment/#ca 

31 Actions for Gender Justice: March 20th Action 20. Know the signs of financial abuse 

March 20th Action 20. Know the signs of financial abuse

Financial abuse often begins subtly and progresses over time. The aim of financial abuse, as with other forms of abuse, is to gain power and control in a relationship. Financial abuse along with emotional and physical abuse, manipulation, intimidation and threats are all aimed at getting and maintaining control over another person. The purpose is to trap them in the relationship.

Controlling how money is spent

Withholding money or “giving an allowance”

Withholding basic living resources, medication or food Not allowing their partner to work or earn money Stealing their partner’s identity, money, credit or property May justify behaviour as cultural.

Does your partner:

Steal money from you or your family and force you to give access to your money or financial accounts?

Make you feel as though you don’t have a right to know any details about money or household decisions?

Make financial or investment decisions that affect you or your family without consulting or reaching agreement with you?

Refuse to include you in important meetings with banks, financial planners, or retirement specialists?

Forbid you from working or attending school or training sessions?

Overuse your credit cards or refuse to pay the bills?

Force you to file fraudulent tax claims?

Prevent you from obtaining or using credit cards or bankcards?

Withhold physical resources including food, clothes, necessary medications or shelter from you?

Force you to work in a family business for little or no pay or refuse to work to help support the family?

Interfere with your performance at work through harassing activities like frequent telephone calls, emails or visits to your workplace?

Force you to turn over your benefit payments or threaten to report you for “cheating” on your benefits so your benefits will be cut off, even if you aren’t cheating?

Force you to cash in, sell or sign over any financial assets or inheritance you own (e.g. bonds, stock or property)?

Force you to agree to power-of-attorney in order to be able to legally sign documents without your knowledge or consent?

If you find yourself answering yes to one or more of these questions, you may be in a financially abusive relationship. Recognizing this may be very difficult, but there is help available and you are not alone.

What should you do if you are being financially abused?

Step One: Evaluate your personal confidence level regarding finances.

First, work on understanding how your experience of dealing with financial abuse makes you feel about your ability to manage finances. You might not feel confident in your ability to manage your money. However, understand that your abuser probably wanted you to feel this way so that he could maintain his power and control over you and your finances. With education, assistance and support you can become a successful money manager and work toward setting and achieving your own financial goals.

Step Two: Gain information about your assets and liabilities.

It is a common strategy for an abusive partner to hide assets and information about bank accounts and debts. Consider safe ways of doing some investigative work to find financial documents and make copies of these documents to hide in a safe place.

If possible, make photocopies of information about his income, such as any pay stubs, tax returns, company records and ledgers, bank accounts, investments, and RRSPs. Possible safe places include opening a safety deposit box to store documents for safe keeping without telling your partner or storing copies at a friend or family member’s house.

It’s also important to have copies of other critical documents stored in a safe place, such as Social Insurance numbers (SIN) (for yourself, children and your partner), your marriage certificate, birth certificates and Health Card numbers, bank statements and credit card statements.

Documentation regarding joint property can also be very helpful, particularly if you decide to leave the relationship. Photographs can often be more helpful than extensive lists, so consider taking photographs of any joint property. Take pictures that help to confirm the property was at your residence by including children, family or friends in the photographs.

Step Three: Begin saving money immediately.

Another common control tactic used by abusers is to not allow the victim to have any money on their own. Consider finding a way to save some cash for yourself for emergencies or if you need to escape the relationship on short notice. This can be a challenge, but it is something many survivors have been able to accomplish by using all their resources.

One strategy is to save change from purchases and save it in a safe place or secret bank account. Another possibility is having raises or bonuses from work deposited directly into an account that your abusive partner is unaware of (make sure to have bank statements sent to a special PO Box or safe address). Be creative and utilize your strengths and resources to ensure cash flow for yourself and your children.

Also, consider taking at least half of the money in your joint checking and saving accounts immediately upon leaving. However, remember that abusers frequently increase in their efforts at power and control if the partner is leaving.

Many women survivors of violence who have had to flee their home report being surprised to discover their partner immediately drained any joint bank accounts. This tactic is a purposefully attempt to get women to return and can be a very powerful method of regaining control. Taking at least half of the money is a way of protecting yourself and ensuring that you have the means to take care of yourself and your children. If you are hesitant to do this, remember that you can always deposit it back. Taking care of yourself and any children is top priority.

Step Four: Seek financial independence, one step at a time.

Consider opening your own checking account and applying for a credit card. Having a personal checking account and one credit card in your name ensures that you have your own personal credit history. Also, remember to change the signature authority on any joint accounts so that both of you must sign for any transaction to occur. One way to do this is by setting up your bank account in the following way: “Jane Doe and John Doe”, rather “Jane Doe or John Doe”.

Click here for more information about financial information and tools.

31 Actions for Gender Justice: March 19th Action 19. Support each other  

March 19th Action 19. Support each other  

Demonstrate kindness and compassion. Support women and people of marginalized genders from all walks of life. Inspire and be inspired. Respect differences, experiences and perspectives. 

Share messages of encouragement and show appreciation when you receive them. Stay connected with your loved ones and talk about ways to improve mental heath during these challenging times. Social isolation and loneliness during COVID-19 has led to an increase in gender-based violence, disproportionately affecting marginalized groups – Indigenous, Immigrant, Black, racialized women and people of marginalized genders. 

Gender-based violence is not only happening at home, but also in public spaces, online, at work, at school by intimate partners, strangers spreading hate in the streets and online, co-workers abusing their power and condoning misogyny, and homo/bi/transphobic and racist perpetrators. 

Many women and other people who are marginalized by their gender in domestic violence situations may not feel comfortable or ready to share their experiences, so they suffer in silence. Their friends and loved ones may not know what they are going through. Messages of kindness and compassion could reach the women who need to know that they are not alone, that there’s always a way out.  

A phone call, text, message on social media, letter can go a long way to show that you care.