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London Police Services Board seeks public input in defining femicide in Criminal Code

Students holding up signs to protest sexual assault and gender based violence at Western University in the wake of numerous reports of sexual assault. Sept. 17, 2021. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

The London Police Service Board (LPSB) is seeking public input from the community, as well as local women advocacy group, to define femicide in Canada’s Criminal Code in relation to hate-motivated crimes.

“Without that definition, it makes it difficult to name femicide,” said Megan Walker, a member of the LPSB.

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At the June 16 meeting of the LPSB, three motions were passed regarding hate crime against women and members voted to draft a letter to the federal government to get femicide included in the Criminal Code of Canada, to make it easier to charge it as a hate crime.

The recommendation, put forth by Walker, former executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre, was unanimously supported by fellow board members.

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“Addressing male violence against women is a priority of our board,” said Susan Toth, chair of the LPSB, in a letter.

“One woman or girl is murdered in Canada every 36 hours. A disproportionate number of these women and girls are Indigenous,” she continued. “The board is committed to addressing these issues and as a first step would like femicide, commonly understood as the killing of women and girls, defined in the Criminal Code of Canada.”

Toth added that the goal in defining femicide is to see it labelled and addressed as a hate-motivated crime.

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The motions require London Police Service (LPS) chief, Steve Williams, to mandate officers investigating any incident in which a victim is from an identifiable group to consider if it was hate motivated.

Additionally, Williams will include demographic information in the LPS annual report that specifically reflects the sex and gender of known perpetrators of hate-motivated crimes and victims.

Toth noted that this section of the motion will be updated upon a Criminal Code definition of femicide.

“We value your expertise, experience and commitment to addressing male violence against women, and commitment to your community,” she said.

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“This is just the first part of what may be other recommendations for the future,” Walker added. “It’s a starting point for us, and other recommendations will flow from it.”

The public has until July 31 to send their comments to the London Police Services Board.

 

The final report will be presented at the LPSB September meeting where recommendations will be sent to the federal government.

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