Still a long way to go for Canadian women

Chances are, you know a woman who has been physically or sexually assaulted.

Chances are, you know a woman who has been physically or sexually assaulted.

We know this because half of all women in Canada have been physically or sexually assaulted at least once since the age of 16 according to a Statistics Canada survey.

While that survey dates back to 1993, there’s little reason to believe the numbers have gotten much better in the intervening years.

In 2009 a Statistics Canada survey found that women in this country reported 460,000 sexual assaults in just one year.

Statistics Canada further informs us that only about 10 per cent of sexual assaults are reported to police.

So that 460,000 number is low, really low.

One Billion Rising, celebrated each year in Duncan and around the world, “began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that one in three women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime.”

It’s sobering to think that Canada is a relatively safe country for women. Our communities, and our society as a whole, clearly still has a big problem.

As International Women’s Day approached this week there were ample examples of the kinds of struggles women still face in 2016.

On Monday American sportscaster Erin Andrews was in the news for winning a lawsuit she launched against a stalker who recorded nude video of her without her consent when she stayed at a hotel, then posted it to the Internet. She also successfully held the hotel to account.

Then there were the findings of a report (Making Women Count) from Oxfam Canada and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives that found that women in Canada earn about 72 per cent of the wages men make for similar work.

Also on Monday, in a B.C. courtroom, Gurjinder Dhaliwal was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his ex-girlfriend Maple Batalia. He shot and stabbed her because she wanted to break up with him.

Assault and sexual assault have been high profile news over the last several years, with dozens of women coming forward to accuse actor and comedian Bill Cosby of rape.

He has not been tried criminally on any of the allegations to date.

In Canada celebrity radio host Jian Ghomeshi has been on trial  for sexual assault. The outcome of that trial is still pending.

Women in both of these cases have faced the ugliness that causes so many victims of sexual assault to choose not to come forward.

All too often they are accused of being liars and worse.

Yes, we’ve still got a long way to go to change the statistics to something more palatable.