Free Essay On Missing And Murdered Aboriginal Women In Canada

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Women, Violence, Crime, Canada, Society, Discrimination, Victimology, Human

Pages: 7

Words: 1925

Published: 2020/12/22


The statistics on the number of Aboriginal women and girls missing or murdered in Canada are horrifying. Over the last 30 years, there have been more than a thousand reported cases of missing women. Despite this high number, little has been done to counter or deal with this situation. The society and especially the government have come under attack for seemingly ignoring the fate of the Aboriginal women with the focus being on other issues that are given more importance. The root of the problem lies in the power relations between men and women in the Canadian society. Here, the value of life placed on men’s lives cannot be compared to that placed on Aboriginal women’s lives. This, therefore, has resulted in the rise of a number of barriers that predispose the aboriginal women to every kind of abuse whether physical or sexual. To the aboriginal women in Canada, an interplay of societal injustice and gender-related factors predispose them to increased physical and sexual abuse that often results in disappearance and murder.

Scope of the problem

In order to look into the real problem that faces the aboriginal women in Canada, their plight can first be highlighted in the wider context of women in Canada. According to the Canadian women foundation, most Canadian women up to 50% of the total number of women in the country report that they have at least once in their lives experienced assault, may it be physical or sexual in nature. This shows the level to which women in the country are discriminated against with about 70% of the total Canadian population saying that they personally know of a woman who has been assaulted.
The issue originates from the homes whereby on average; Canada experiences the murder of one woman in every six days. The perpetrator of this kind of murder is mostly the spouse or the person the woman was intimate with. Social services in the country report that on a daily basis, over 3000 women and children do not sleep in their homes but rather in shelters seeking protection from abusive husbands and fathers. The issue of domestic violence is dire in the country since police records show that out of the total number of violent crimes reported, about 20% involved domestic violence. The worrying thing is that this represents only about 20% of the total cases, since most of the victims are afraid to come out and share their experiences.
When still talking of the police, their records show that about 500000 women report sexual violence in the country annually. This is a representation of only 10% of the believed total cases meaning that the great number of women being affected is larger. In most cases, when the women report such cases, the response they get is not good with some not believed while other cases are just dropped. This has led to a situation where only 5% of the sexual assault offenders face prosecution and conviction (Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2015).
This situation has had its economic impact on the Canadian people and the population at large since the country reportedly spends close to 10 billion dollars to cover the costs that arise due to domestic violence. These costs range from funeral costs to hospital costs and loss of future income. There have some new developments in the experience of women in the country whereby more than 10% of all women report cases of stalking that make them fear for their lives. Furthermore, there has been an increase in sex trafficking whereby women make up more than 80% of the victims.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada, reports that by the year 2010, about 600 known cases of missing or murdered aboriginal women were reported to authorities. Little or nothing at all is done on this situation, however, despite lobbying by international human rights bodies and the civil society. The circumstances that explain the disappearances of these aboriginal women differ with 60% believed to be murder due to violence perpetrated by spouses, 20% missing 5% of the cases having the suspicion of murder by the police and 10% of the cases being not clearly explained. This, therefore, represents the wide array of dangers that Aboriginal women have to face on a daily basis due to their position in the society.
After looking at the violence from a wider perspective, narrowing the scope to focus on the Aboriginal women reveals horrifying statistics. The aboriginal women are reported to make up only 3% of the total female population in the country, but when it comes to homicides, they make up 10% of all female related homicides. The police records also show that about 60% of all missing women in the country have aboriginal ancestry. The normal criminal records show that in most murder case that have seen conviction of the offenders, only 16% of the offenders have no kind of connection to the victim. In most cases, the perpetrator is unknown to the victim. The pictures however changed when the Aboriginal women are considered since in murder cases that involve them, only 6% involve total strangers. In most cases, the offenders are people known to them, ranging from friends to neighbors and current or former partners. The violence that Aboriginal women encounter is also spread out in different places making the society virtually unsafe for the women. About 40% of the total murders of Aboriginal women reportedly occur in their residential places. The public places are also not safe given their share of reported violence. For the women who indulge in activities such as prostitution, they are even more susceptible to violence, and even murder compared to other Aboriginal women. (NAWAC, 2010)

Change in Focus

Over time, much research has been done on the plight of the aboriginal women in Canada. The focus of this research has mainly been on the domestic nature of the violence that is perpetrated by the spouses or the partners of the women. This has led to the understanding of the situation from a narrow perspective which is the homestead. This kind of research and study is still valid, but there are evident signs of the need to come up with academic outlooks that study this violence from a wider perspective. This has therefore led to most of the current studies and research seeking to understand other factors that underlie the violence against Aboriginal women. These factors have been conceived by many stakeholders to be made up of the setup of systems in the society, issue of racism in Canada and also unjust gender relations in the country.
In this new stance taken by both local and international, human rights bodies, the circumstances that explain the violence leveled against Aboriginal women are looked into. To this end, the root cause to explain why there has been a sense of radicalized and mostly sexual violence against these women has been sought. This new approach by players concerned with this situation, therefore, seeks to do away with assumptions and stereotyping of the Aboriginal women and focus on finding out the complete set of issues that explain the violence in Canada. The context of the violence against these women has therefore been considerably widened to include aspects that were not previously looked into. The new features and aspects that have been brought to light include questions of race and gender being the predisposing factors for the violence. Another approach has focused on the role played by the societal systems such as the police and the justice system since some cases of negligence has been noted in the violence experienced by the women.

Social Injustice

The violence leveled towards the aboriginal women in Canada has brought to the light the kind of social injustice that the women in that country face. These women are essentially not able to enjoy the rights that every human being in any given society is supposed to enjoy. Rather than being accorded the liberties that every human being deserves, the aboriginal women in Canada have been subject to discrimination that comes from different quarters of the society. This discrimination rises right from their homes, to the social institutions and even the justice system. Amnesty International on its report on the violence on the aboriginal women notes that the kind of discrimination towards the women in Canada takes two different forms. On one side, the cultural setup of the communities places the women at a position whereby prejudice is a common thing while the policies and the actions that government institutions or officials come up with are biased and often disadvantage the women. This places the women in a precarious situation whereby the society at large fails to give protection to the women. They are inevitably placed in harm’s way, and this can explain the increased number of the homicides and violation to the rights that the women have.
The experience that women have on violence in Canada is worse compared to other developed countries. Though there is a difference in the nature and intensity of the violence leveled towards the aboriginal and other women in the Canadian society there are similarities that the two groups have. The injustices the two groups face necessitate action from different quarters in order to do away with the impact that the violence continues to have on the Canadian women.
The impact of the increased violence towards women in Canada has been felt most by the aboriginal women. This is because of research that shows the relationship between the violence and racial discrimination. In most cases, the aboriginal victims who represent the minority are not brought to the mainstream societal discussions meaning that their problems are likely to be forgotten. This further builds the case of the kind of social injustice the women experience since apart from being victims of violence, they are virtually unnoticed in the societal systems.
The aboriginal women who experience such violence have a number of their human rights violated. This is despite Canada as a country being in agreement with international treaties and agreements that aim at providing people with basic rights. The society and the government to be exact, therefore, fail in providing the social justice to the aboriginal women in the country. Some of the rights of the women that are violated, in this case, include the right to sexual and racial equality, right to be protected against bad treatment, and the right to the security of the self. The country also seems to condone systems and policies that perpetrate social injustice towards the aboriginal women. For instance, the country has policies that deny legal input for Aboriginal women who are married to non-indigenous men. This out rightly shows the injustice in the legal setup which is against the United Nations human rights provisions, and that puts the women at the risk of violence (Amnesty International, 2004)
The level of injustice suffered by the Aboriginal women has been highlighted by various studies and reports over time. The police and their systems and policies have been responsible for failing to deal adequately with the violence situation in the country. In a report compiled by Jason Gratl that looked into violence towards Aboriginal women and sex workers, the fault of the police is clearly seen. The police are found to be discriminatory in various capacities. First, they are guilty of failing to provide more resources to secure the women despite having all the information about the danger they face. In their investigations also, the police are found to be wanting in the sense that they are biased and often have stereotypes about the victims, aspects that mean that meaningful investigations cannot be done.

Activism for Policy Change

There has been an increased push by both the local and international community for Canada to change its policies when it comes to tackling of the violence towards Aboriginal women in the country. First has been the push for the country to become part of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women. This convention would lead to increased protection of the aboriginal women in the country since it would result in the state putting in places structures and policies that discourage and even punish violence against women. The treaty also roots for introducing programs that deal with the cultural roots of the violence while at the same time offering training for governmental machinery responsible for administering justice and countering the violence against the women.
Civil society groups have also been quite active in pointing out the obligation that the government has towards providing security for the people. Here, the governments have the role of overseeing the implementation of effective measures that guard individuals against the violation of their human rights. To this end, the government is being pushed to carry out its due diligence role that calls for conducting of investigations focused on preventing human rights violations while at the same time ensuring that victims receive justice.


The aboriginal women in Canada face great danger of their safety due to the increased number of physical and sexual attacks. The nature of these attacks has developed from the conventional domestic violence to racially motivated attacks. The Aboriginal women also face barriers of different kinds in their quest for security ranging from societal prejudice to police mistreatment. All these factors contribute to the widespread violation of the human rights that the aboriginal women have in Canada.


Amnesty International (2008): Stolen Sisters: a Human Rights Response to Discrimination and Violence against Indigenous Women in Canada, Canadian Woman Studies, 26, 3/4, 105-121.
. Canadian’s Women Foundation (2015). The Facts about Violence against Women Retrieved 16 march 2015.
Native women’s Association of Canada (2010). Fact Sheet: Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls Retrieved 16 March 17, 2015
Native women’s Association of Canada (2010). Sisters in Spirit 2010 Research Findings. Retrieved 16 March 17, 2015

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