Woman Abuse Prevention Month, NOV 2014

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Woman Abuse Prevention Month

It is every woman’s fundamental right to live in safety and security in her home and community – free from the threat of violence. November is Woman Abuse Prevention Month. Please take a moment to check out the statistics on woman abuse and learn about the importance of ending violence against women…

For 25 years now, November as Woman Abuse Prevention Month, an occasion to shed light on violence against women in our communities, and highlight efforts underway to end it. Unfortunately, even after a quarter-century the crisis continues, with partner abuse and sexual violence afflicting girls and women, as well as boys and men. Measuring violence against women: Statistical Trends, Canada


Seven sobering statistics in Canada about women and abuse:

1. Thousands of children are exposed to partner violence

Estimates of the precise number of children in Canada exposed each year to partner violence range widely, from about 120,000 to a high of 800,000. Regardless of the exact number, there’s a body of research that suggests that children who witness such violence are more likely to experience a range of negative outcomes, according to Statistics Canada. These include increased risk of emotional, behavioural, cognitive and social problems, with more severe outcomes for younger children.

2. Young women are most at risk

That same Statistics Canada report found that the rate of reported violent crime against women between the ages of 15 and 24 was 42 per cent higher than it was for women between 25 and 34 — and almost double the rate for women between 35 and 44.

3. Women are 11 times more likely to be victims of sexual offences

Extrapolating from police reports, Statistics Canada reported earlier this year that violent crime against women was about five per cent higher than it was for men. But women were 11 times more likely to suffer a sexual offence than men were, and were three times more likely to be the victim of criminal harassment.

4. At least 668 aboriginal women and girls are missing or murdered

According to the Native Women’s Association of Canada, two to three aboriginal women are reported missing or murdered each month — and the suspected numbers that go unreported are even higher. Last month, James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said that Canada should set up a national inquiry into what he called a “disturbing phenomenon.”

5. More than 3,000 women stay in shelters on a given night to escape abuse

Based on surveys filled out by most of the approximately 600 residential shelter facilities in Canada, a Statistics Canada study found that on a given night, about 3,300 women across the country were sleeping in shelters to escape abuse. About 420 women are turned away each day, half of them because the shelter they’re trying to access is full (other reasons for refusing admission included mental health issues and drug-related impairment).

6. Sexual assault and partner violence costs the country $9 billion per year

Partially in response to what it says is a lack of data, the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report earlier this year titled The Gap in the Gender Gap: Violence Against Women in Canada. That report attempted to total up all the costs — from the justice system to health care — incurred due to sexual assault and intimate partner violence, pegging the figure at $9 billion, or around $334 per person per year. These victims were mostly women.

7. Half of all Canadian women have experienced physical or sexual violence

That number comes from Statistics Canada, whose Violence Against Women Survey looked at women over the age of 18 across the country. The survey, however, was one-time-only — and it took place in 1993.

On a global scale, November 25th was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Why This International Day?

  • Violence against women is a human rights violation
  • Violence against women is a consequence of discrimination against women, in law and also in practice, and of persisting inequalities between men and women
  • Violence against women impacts on, and impedes, progress in many areas, including poverty eradication, combating HIV/AIDS, and peace and security
  • Violence against women and girls is not inevitable. Prevention is possible and essential
  • Violence against women continues to be a global pandemic. Up to 70 per cent of women experience violence in their lifetime.

nov 25 a c of w

The date of November 25 was chosen to commemorate the Mirabal sisters, three political activists Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961) ordered brutally assassinate in 1960.

The house in which the Mirabal sisters lived for the last ten months of their lives is now a museum in Salcedo, Dominican Republic.
The Mirabals were farmers in the Dominican Republic. Their daughters grew up in a middle-class, cultured environment raised by Enrique Mirabal Fernandez and Mercedes Reyes Camilo. The four sisters married and raised families. Unlike her sisters, Dede never attended college, and instead worked as a homemaker and helped out run the family business in agriculture and cattle.

Political involvement

Las_hermanas_mirabal_2014-02-20_16-31Influenced by her uncle, Minerva became involved in the political movement against Trujillo, who served as the country’s official president from 1930 to 1938 and from 1942 to 1952, but ruled from behind the scenes as a dictator from 1930 to his assassination in 1961.

Minerva studied law and became a lawyer, but because she declined Trujillo’s romantic advances in 1949, she was only allowed to earn a degree, but not have a license to practice law. Her sisters followed suit, first Maria Teresa, who joined after staying with Minerva and learning about their activities, and then Patria, who joined after witnessing a massacre by some of Trujillo’s men while on a religious retreat. Dedé joined later, due to having been held back by her husband Jaimito. They eventually formed a group called the Movement of the Fourteenth of June (named after the date of the massacre Patria witnessed), to oppose the Trujillo regime. They distributed pamphlets about the many people whom Trujillo had killed, and obtained materials for guns and bombs to use when they finally openly revolted. Within the group, the Mirabals called themselves Las Mariposas (“The Butterflies“), after Minerva’s underground name.

Minerva and Maria Teresa were incarcerated but were never tortured due to mounting international opposition to Trujillo’s regime. Three of the sisters’ husbands (who were also involved in the underground activities) were incarcerated at La Victoria Penitentiary in Santo Domingo. Despite these setbacks, they persisted in fighting to end Trujillo’s leadership.

In 1960, the Organization of American States condemned Trujillo’s actions and sent observers. Minerva and Maria Teresa were freed, but their husbands remained in prison. On their remembrance website, Learn to Question, the author writes, “No matter how many times Trujillo jailed them, no matter how much of their property and possessions he seized, Minerva, Patria and Maria Teresa refused to give up on their mission to restore democracy and civil liberties to the island nation.”

Assassination – On November 25, 1960, Patria, Minerva, Maria Teresa, and driver Rufino de la Cruz were visiting Patria and Minerva’s incarcerated husbands. On the way home, they were stopped by Trujillo’s henchmen. The sisters and the driver were separated and were clubbed to death. The bodies were then gathered and put in their Jeep where it was run off the mountain road to look like an accident.

After Trujillo was assassinated in May 1961, General Pupo Román admitted to having personal knowledge that the sisters were killed by Victor Alicinio and Peña Rivera, who were Trujillo’s right-hand men. Ciriaco de la Rosa, Ramon Emilio Rojas, Alfonso Cruz Vlaeria and Emilio Estrada Malleta were all members of his secret police force. Whether Trujillo ordered the secret police to kill them or whether they acted on their own is unknown. Virgilio Pina Chevalier (Don Cucho), a Trujillo family member, wrote in his 2008 book, La era de Trujillo. Narraciones de Don Cucho, that Trujillo said that the Mirabal assassinations had nothing to do with him.

However, as Chevalier notes, “we know orders of this nature could not come from any authority lower than national sovereignty. That was none other than Trujillo himself; still less could it have taken place without his assent.”

According to historian Bernard Diederich, the sisters’ assassinations “had greater effect on Dominicans than most of Trujillo’s other crimes”, noting that “it did something to their machismo” and paved the way for Trujillo’s own assassination six months later.

However, the details of the Mirabal sisters’ assassinations were “treated gingerly at the official level” until 1996, when Joaquín Balaguer was finally pressured to step down from his six terms of presidency over the course of 22 years. Balaguer had been Trujillo’s protégé and was the president at the time of the assassinations in 1960 (though at the time he “distanced himself from General Trujillo and initially carved out a more moderate political stance”). A review of the history curriculum in public schools in 1997 recognized the Mirabals as national martyrs. The post-Balaguer era has seen a marked increase in homages to the Mirabal sisters, including an exhibition of their belongings at the National Museum of History and Geography and the transformation of Trujillo’s obelisk into a mural dedicated in their honor.

museohnsmirabalThe old house of the Mirabal family and the residence of Dedé Mirabal until her death on February 1, 2014.

After the death of her sisters, Dedé Mirabal devoted her life to the legacy of her sisters. She raised her sisters’ six children, including Minou Tavárez Mirabal, Minerva’s daughter, who served as deputy for the National District in the lower House since 2002 and served as deputy foreign minister from 1996 to 2000.

Vivas-En-Su-JardinOf her own three children, Jaime David Fernández Mirabal, is the current Minister for Environment and Natural Resources and former vice president of the Dominican Republic.

In 1992, she founded the Mirabal Sisters Foundation and in 1994 the Mirabal Sisters Museum in her hometown Salcedo.

She published a book, Vivas en su Jardín, on August 25, 2009. She lived in the house where the sisters were born in Salcedo until her death.

Purple is the symbol of courage, survival and honour and it has come to symbolize the fight to end woman abuse, here in Ontario, Canada.


When it comes to statistics relating to violence against women and children it’s important to know that you don’t have to be a math expert to understand the numbers. You simply have to be willing to recognize that each statistic represents a woman, child, or family — a life — torn apart by violence and abuse.

Violence against women includes, but is not limited to:

~ Gender-based violence
~ Rape, marital rape and incest
~ Murder and assault including dowry-related violence and honour killings
~ Forced marriage
~ Female genital mutilation
~ Human trafficking including cross-border prostitution rings and bride kidnappings
~ War crimes including rape as a weapon of war

The purple scarf is a symbol of the courage it takes woman leave her abuser. However, the courage of the woman is not enough. It takes the strength of an entire community to end violence against women. For the month of November, cities, regions and countries will turn purple in support of abused women.

In the spirit of healing, and desire to Take Action, BUY YOUR SCARF today.

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