“In Canada and around the world, an estimated one in three women still experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes. This abuse can occur in many forms, from intimate partner violence to rape, trafficking, female genital mutilation or cutting and child, early and forced marriage. Sadly, most survivors do not feel comfortable coming forward because of outdated stigmas, complex legal systems and the pain of reliving the events.
“Sexual and gender-based violence does not occur in a vacuum: we know that further risks and stigmatization affect women and girls who are Indigenous, racialized, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer, or two-spirit, living with disabilities, or experiencing homelessness. We also know that COVID-19 mitigation measures, especially stay-at-home orders, have contributed to increased abuse and disruptions in accessing support.
“Not only do these survivors bear the lifelong effects of their perpetrator’s actions, but sexual and gender-based violence affects entire communities as barriers to peace, security and prosperity.
“This is why Canada takes a feminist approach to our foreign policy and international assistance. This drives our multilateral engagement, including on the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. It has been 25 years since the Beijing Declaration stated ‘women’s rights are human rights.’ We call for continued progress, including addressing new forms of abuse, such as violence against women and girls in the digital sphere.
“Canada is inspired by efforts of those on the front lines of the fight against sexual and gender-based violence and their continued resilience, particularly during the current COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to support women’s rights organizations, human rights defenders, and the media in confronting abuse. Institutionally, we also support increased recruitment and training of women in policing and security roles to make it easier for survivors to report their abuse safely. Canada champions the integration and early adoption of prevention, mitigation and response measures for sexual and gender-based violence throughout every stage of humanitarian interventions.
“As Canada marks the beginning of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, concluding on Human Rights Day, December 10, we invite you to join the conversation using the hashtag #16Days and to become an ally by listening, believing, speaking out, intervening and acting.”