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Letters  

End violence against women

Re. RCMP confirm death (Castanet, April 17)

It’s Prevention of Violence Against Women Week in British Columbia—a week when anti-violence groups and advocates share the horrifying statistics on intimate partner violence and its effects and a week when politicians release statements and promises around how we all need to do more to keep women safe.

It’s also a week when yet another woman was found dead less than two days after her former husband showed up at her home near Lumby, shoved her into a car, and drove away with her.

Tatjana Stefanski was 44. She had a partner who cherished her, children who counted on her and friends who adored her. Her body was found in rural Lumby. A man believed associated with her death was arrested, and later released under conditions. Her friends and family are horrified. Members of the public are shocked.

How can (that happen)? What sense does that make?

It’s a question that comes up too often in discussions around intimate partner violence, a crime that affects almost half of Canadian women (44%) in their lifetimes. Despite the prevalence of this crime, and the large numbers of women and children it affects, our policing and justice systems still don’t take it seriously enough.

I give you the case of my friend, Melanie, whose ex-husband allegedly beat her more than once in Kelowna. He also allegedly badly hurt their son.Despite the reams of evidence against him, the wheels of “justice” turned so slowly.

He was eventually let off due to time delays. Most recently, he was to face a charge of stalking with intent to harm. Crown counsel told Melanie they’d dropped the charges because she had a restraining order, was in another city and was safe.

Meanwhile, she knows he’s been to the city where she and her children now live half a dozen times in the last two years and continues to stalk them.

Considering that, and given women are at the most risk for harm after they leave an abusive relationship, it’s clear she and her children are far from safe.

Every two days in this country a woman or girl is killed. Each morning, I check the news and read about yet another woman (and often her children with her) who is found dead.

In almost every case, the article will eventually share she left a partner, had a restraining order against her partner and shared with friends, family, and others, including police and lawyers, she didn’t feel safe.

When are we going to start listening? When are we going to act to keep them safe? Until we as a society acknowledge gender-based violence is an epidemic, and start placing real value on the lives of women, girls and gender diverse folks, nothing will change.

And the deaths of Tatjana, and so many others, will have been for nothing.

Karen Mason,
co-founder and executive director,
Supporting Survivors of Abuse and Brain Injury Through Research (SOAR)



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