City politicians back plan to address violence against women in London’s strategic plan

London City Hall as seen June 14, 2017. Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL File

Tackling male violence against women may become one of the core values that London city politicians use to guide decision-making for their current four-year term.

Full council, sitting as the strategic priorities and policy committee, heard the recommendation from Anova and the London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC) on Monday evening.

Both organizations, which are dealing with a two-fold increase in demand for service since 2017, consulted women with lived experience and recommended the city to make creating a safe London for women and girls a standalone strategic focus.

READ MORE: At least 148 women were killed in Canada last year. How do we keep them safer?

“In 2018, 148 women in Canada were murdered primarily by men in this country. Every two-and-a-half days, one woman or girl is killed. That has been the trend for the last four decades,” said Megan Walker, the executive director of LAWC.

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Over-represented in these stats, she explained, are Indigenous women and girls, women between 25 and 34 years old, and vulnerable populations. In deaths, where an accused was identified, 91 per cent of the accused were men, said Walker.

By enhancing the safety of women and girls, Walker said the city would be enhancing the safety for everyone while increasing its opportunities for economic development.

“We want to make London a forerunner,” said Shelley Yeo, the assistant executive director of Anova and the co-chair of a co-ordinating committee to end women abuse.

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For example, under the recommended strategic value, the city’s development plans would be checked against a gendered lens to make sure of its safety for women and children, Yeo explained. That would make London a place where women will want to live, and send their kids to school, she added.

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The city still has to finalize its strategic plan, but the recommendation got nods of support from everyone around horseshoe on Monday, including a personal conviction from Ward 13 Coun. Elizabeth Peloza.

“From someone who has buried a childhood friend murdered by her intimate partner, from someone whose cousin had to sleep in fear because her partner would keep a knife on the nightstand and say, ‘Tonight might be the night I just have to use it,’ to someone who’s also suffered abuse from a prior partner, I do think it’s important that we separate these issues out,” she said.

“They’re not buried in darkness in a policy… We know those numbers might get worse as women come forward, but that’s because it’s safe for them to come forward. They know that we’re listening, they know that we care, we know that they’re hurt.”

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