One out of every four violent crimes reported to the police is a case of domestic violence, according to Statistics Canada. Women’s Shelter Canada indicated in its most recent report that of the 550 shelters it supports, 59% reported a decrease in calls at the beginning of the pandemic. However, as the lockdown measures eased, more than half of these shelters (61%) experienced a surge in calls.
According to the same report, one in two shelters saw an increase in the severity of violence experienced by women. This included stabbings, strangulations and broken bones.
These horrifying statistics were released as part of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence being held across the country.
The issue of domestic violence affects us all. I make a special appeal to all men, especially those in our organization: we cannot stand idly by in the face of this type of behaviour. We must denounce, but also protect our sisters, colleagues, mothers and friendsas much as possible.
How do we do that? Simply by listening to our co-workers if they want to talk about it and by offering them our help. In short, we must not remain spectators of violence against women.
Too many shelters have had to reduce their capacity to meet the new health standards and almost 80% of them have problems with staff retention. This puts hundreds, if not thousands of abused women in a difficult position as they do not receive the services they should have.
Personally, I support Le Parados women’s shelter and I remain vigilant in offering the women I work with the opportunity to confide in me if they are in difficulty.
I invite all our members, especially the men, to do the same. We Teamsters cannot tolerate violence against women. It is not a problem that begins and ends with a couple; it affects all of us.
If you are in immediate DANGER or fear for your safety,
President of Teamsters Canada
Vice President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters