Débats du Sénat (hansard)

1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 134

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Violence against Women

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to address the problem of violence against women throughout the world.

On December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi was returning home from seeing a movie with a male friend. They boarded a bus with six young men. Both the woman and her friend were attacked, robbed of their belongings and she was brutally gang raped and assaulted with an iron bar. After driving around for hours, the men eventually pushed their victims’ naked bodies onto the road. The young woman was airlifted to a Singapore hospital where she died of internal injuries on December 28, 2012. Although this incident has been most publicized, it is not the only recent example.

Despite the country’s recent economic growth, women are still largely seen, and treated, as objects. In a recent poll, India was labelled as the worst place to be a woman among G20 countries. The incidence of rape in India has increased 875 per cent in the last 40 years alone. According to India’s own statistics, two women are raped every hour in the country and rapes have increased by 20 per cent between 2007 and 2011. Local police have said that a woman is raped every 18 hours and molested every 14 hours in the capital city of New Delhi alone. These are just the attacks that are reported.

Cultural stigma discourages many victims from reporting sexual violence. A journal of international affairs at the University of California, San Diego, estimates that only 10 per cent of rapes committed in India are ever reported. Of the total number of cases that made it to court in 2011, the overall rate of conviction stood at 26.4 per cent, or 4,072 convictions, while 11,351 acquittals were recorded.

The statistics in Canada are also disturbing. As of 2010, there were 582 cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada; 582 and counting. More than 3,000 women live in emergency shelters to escape domestic violence, and 1 in every 17 Canadian women is raped at some point in her life. Eighty per cent of these assaults happen in the victim’s home.

Although the nationwide protests triggered by this crime in India and the vigils held here in Canada are encouraging, protest and hope are not enough. What happened to this young girl in Delhi can happen to our daughters and our sisters. We have to stand with India and its people to bring about change. We can lead by example by doing more to protect and empower women and girls in Canada and around the world, who deserve nothing less than the full recognition of their unalienable right to safety, security and a life free of violence.