Seventy-four percent of British Columbians who died at the hands of a current or former intimate partner over the past decade were women.
The grim statistic is contained in a report released today (December 19) by the B.C. Coroners Service.
That three-quarters of the victims were female confirms something that Angela Marie MacDougall, executive director of Battered Women’s Support Services, has known for a long time.
“This is the ground reality,” MacDougall told the Straight in a phone interview.
According to her, violence against women is “one of the pressing social issues of our time, and the results of it are lethal”.
“What we’ve got here is a war on women,” MacDougall said. “The battlefield is the home where it’s supposed to be safe.”
MacDougall explained that violence against women, especially the kind that comes from men, is rooted deeply in a culture that treats women as “property”.
“It’s the key reason why men use power and control in relationships, and the ultimate expression of power and control is to kill somebody,” she said.
The B.C. Coroners Service report covers the period between January 1, 2004, and December 15, 2014.
It summarizes deaths as a result of “intimate partner violence”. An intimate partner is either a current or former spouse or dating partner.
The report indicated that deaths reached a high of 23 in 2008.
For the current year to December 15, there were 14 deaths. The number is double the decade-low of seven in 2013.
According to MacDougall, women often become subject to life-threatening violence either while they’re leaving or have left a relationship.
She said that what’s not covered in the B.C. Coroners Service report is something that should be of concern as well.
“For every woman that has died, there are thousands in Vancouver and British Columbia who are living in fear,” MacDougall said. “That’s the other thing that we have to remember.”