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‘No more femicides’: B.C. women’s groups call for action on deadly domestic violence

Women’s advocates held a vigil in Vancouver on Tuesday honouring the at least 10 women allegedly killed by their domestic partners or family members in British Columbia in 2022.

“We want people to know their names, they were mothers, they were sisters, they were friends, they were women in the community and we don’t want them to be forgotten,” Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter spokesperson Hilla Kerner told Global News.

“It’s heartbreaking. We’re sad and we’re angry. It’s precious lives that should have never been taken. We just want it to stop.”

Advocates defied a rainfall warning, standing in the downpour outside the Vancouver Art Gallery holding placards bearing the names of 10 women killed this year, whose domestic partners were accused in the deaths.

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Three of those women, Stephanie Forster, Harpreet Kaur Gill and Dominga Santos, were killed in December alone.

Kerner said there were likely more than 10 victims of domestic femicide in B.C. this year, but advocates aren’t able to accurately track the scope of the problem because of a lack of data.

“Too often the police is not releasing enough information. We don’t know the name of the women, we don’t know who killed them,” she said.

Kerner called for the B.C. Coroners Service to publicly report the names and details of every woman who died as a result of domestic partner violence.

Battered Women’s Support Services executive director Angela Marie MacDougal said her group had counted at least 24 women who allegedly died at the hands of their partner or a relative this year.


Click to play video: 'Spike in deadly domestic violence in Metro Vancouver'


Spike in deadly domestic violence in Metro Vancouver


Domestic violence against women appears to be increasing, she said, pointing to a coroner’s death panel review conducted in 2015 which found an average of about 12 victims of domestic femicide in the five years prior.

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MacDougal recently wrote to Chief Coroner Lisa LaPointe to call for a new death panel review to probe intimate partner violence and domestic femicide.

“We noticed coming out of the pandemic that we’ve had some shifts in the culture, and that means we’ve had more killings,” she said.

“We think it’s double at least, from what we’ve had in previous years … that’s why we want the death panel review, so we can get those numbers.”

According to the Canadian Femicide Observatory, 173 women died by violence in Canada last year, up from 155 the year prior.

Kerner said she also wants to see a change in the way the criminal justice system handles accused domestic abusers.

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If police are not able to guarantee protection for victims who report violence to police, then the accused abusers should not be granted bail, she said.

Half of the women named at Tuesday’s vigil were allegedly killed by their male partners, even though they had previously been arrested for domestic violence, she said.

“They were released. They were released with conditions of not having contact with the women, and obviously, they did not respect those conditions,” she said.

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“Those murders could have been prevented.”

In a statement, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General said it recognizes the devastating impacts of gender-based violence on survivors and families.

It said it operates the Victim Safety Unit, which notifies high risk victims when an accused or offender is in the community. It said bail supervisors and monitors are also “vigilant in monitoring compliance with court-ordered conditions,” and have the authority to report infractions which can result in bail being revoked.

Global News is seeking comment from the BC Coroners Service about the calls for a death review panel and reporting on victims of femicide.

&copy 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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