In Canada the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) recently published a report that focused on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women. The numbers are staggering for a country that prides itself on equality and issues relating to human rights. What is lost in the report that states there are 1181 missing and murdered aboriginal woman is the fact that if we take the report further we would understand that represents 11.3% of missing and murdered woman. Meaning there are over 13 000 missing or murdered woman in this country.
Individuals who want to continue to ignore or be bystanders to the violence, exploitation and abuse of missing aboriginal woman and the RCMP report want to make this an issue of race. In fact this is about far more than just the over-representation of aboriginal woman who are either missing or murdered. Globally people who are in poverty, marginalized, dealing with issues of neglect, abuse and find themselves not having their basic human rights realized are far more likely to be victimized.
It would be premature to focus on research outcomes without first addressing the context of the research. Violence against women is a significant societal issue. According to the World Health Organization, it affects one-third of women around the globe and represents a health problem of “epidemic proportions.”1
The most recent murder of Tina Fontaine brings to the light our need to be more vigilant in supporting our most vulnerable citizens. Our children, like Tina Fontaine, are at-risk of being abused, exploited and fall victim to those individuals that prey on children and those people most vulnerable. Canadian musician Wab Kinew indicated the over one thousand people who attended the vigil are stating ‘We will be silent no more’. Let’s be clear, there are people who know what happened to Tina Fontaine and the 1181 other aboriginal woman who are missing and murdered, as well as the over 13 000 other woman, but continue to remain silent. For our society to truly not be silent anymore those that were witness to or know who committed these acts of unspeakable violence and exploitation of woman and children will come forward and speak-up on behalf of the victims rather than remain in silence supporting the perpetrators of violence.
Violence and exploitation of woman, children and our vulnerable citizens is reaching epidemic proportions. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services ““After drug dealing, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second-largest criminal industry in the world.” The ‘Not for Sale’ campaign indicates that there are over 30 million people enslaved world-wide and is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Issues related to child pornography, prostitution and free or cheap labour as the world seems to be adopting a money no matter what the cost attitude. Countries seem reluctant to deal with criminal activity of this magnitude, even at times seeming to portray the exploitation of woman as their choice, rather than seeing them as victims.
In order to start to make a difference and end the need to have vigils so we can hear the voice of the victim of such horrific acts of violence, we need more than laws and the enforcement of those laws but we need to change our own beliefs and attitudes about what is acceptable. We need to understand our responsiblity to protect all our children and vulnerable citizens. We need to all believe we are all born equal and we must work together to find a way that we remain equal no matter what race, culture or circumstance we find ourselves in.
It will require that we are no longer bystanders to violence and neglect. We need to protect our children by changing our attitude to the exploitation of woman and children through on-line pornography, child pornography or remain silent as they fall victims to drugs, alcohol or the sex trade. We must put a stop to those who earn their living through the exploitation of others.
We must create a more inclusive society where everyone matters, where people matter.