Canada has ‘gravely’ violated rights of aboriginal women, failing to effectively investigate widespread violence against them, including murder, says a United Nation committee.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) concluded in a report on Friday that the Canadian police and justice systems had failed to provide native women and girls equal protection against violence, and to hold perpetrators responsible, which is a “grave violation” of their rights.
“Aboriginal women and girls are more likely to be victims of violence than men or non-aboriginal women, and they are more likely to die as a result,” said Niklas Bruun (seen in the picture below) and Barbara Bailey, who serve with the committee.
“Yet despite the seriousness of the situation, the Canadian state has not sufficiently implemented measures to ensure that cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women are effectively investigated and prosecuted,” the CEDAW officials stated.
In its report Friday, the 23-member UN committee concluded that Canada had not done enough to fight and eliminate harmful stereotypes.
“The violence inflicted on aboriginal women is often rooted in the deep socio-economic inequalities and discrimination their communities face and which can be traced back to the period of colonization,” Bruun and Bailey said.
The committee provided Canada with a list of 38 non-binding recommendations to improve the situation, including the creating of a national inquiry into the murders and disappearances.
The last survey in 2011 indicated that aboriginals comprise less than five percent of Canada’s population, or about 1.4 million.
According to NGOs, juvenile aboriginal women are five times more at risk to die of violence than other women in Canada, and 3.5 times more likely to report violence, including domestic and sexual abuse.
In January 2014, Human Rights Watch called on the government in Ottawa to set up a national public inquiry into the violence experienced by indigenous women and girls and create a system for greater accountability for Canadian police misconduct.
In May 2014, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said it had recorded 1,017 cases of murdered aboriginal women between the years of 1980 and 2012.
In another 2014 report, the RCMP identified 1,181 murdered or missing aboriginal women dating back to 1952. Of these, 120 homicides and 105 missing cases remain unsolved.
Aboriginal leaders consider poverty, discrimination and poor education to be responsible in plaguing many indigenous communities and causing the unfortunate trend.
They have called for the Canadian government to hold a public inquiry. However, the federal government has refused to address the issue, attributing the disproportionate number of deaths and disappearances to domestic violence.