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MODL declares gender-based violence an epidemic

By Evan Taylor Dec 8, 2023 | 12:29 PM

The MODL office in Cookeville, NS. Photo: Evan Taylor

On December 6th, the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg took a significant step by officially declaring gender-based violence (GBV) as an epidemic.

This announcement aligns with the recent statement from the Federal Justice Minister on August 14th, where he referred to GBV as an epidemic in response to a coroner’s inquest into the Renfrew County Femicides. The inquest stemmed from a tragic incident on September 22, 2015, where three women were stalked and murdered in their homes by a mutual ex-partner, despite known warning signs and a documented history of violence.

In Canada, statistics reveal that 44% of women will experience GBV in their lifetime, and there is a femicide every two days. Disturbingly, 30% of women aged 15 or older report experiencing sexual assault at least once. The rates of violence and abuse are disproportionately higher for Indigenous, Black, and racialized women, women with disabilities, 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals, and other equity deserving groups. Nova Scotia bears a somber distinction, having the highest prevalence of intimate partner violence against women based on self-reports. Additionally, police-reported domestic violence rates in the province remain higher than the national average.

Nova Scotia has yet to make such a declaration.

The commissioners further asserted that gender-based violence is an epidemic in Nova Scotia, echoing global concerns recognized by the United Nations. This declaration by the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg sends a clear message to decision-makers, emphasizing the urgent need to address GBV as a serious social and public health issue.

In a release from Be the Peace Institute a nonprofit dedicated to addressing gender inequity and ending GBV they congratulated the MODL for their decision and called on other municipalities and provincial governments to follow suit.

They would like to see federal and provincial governments  implement the National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence, respond to the calls to action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and adhere to the Mass Casualty Commission’s recommendations. This includes appropriating funding for GBV prevention and response services commensurate with the epidemic-level problem.