Over 500 indigenous women have been murdered or gone missing in Canada over the past 20 years.
More than 400 women in Juarez, Mexico have been murdered since 1993. Seventy more are still missing.
Since 2001, 2,600 indigenous women have been killed in Guatemala.
Rape, abduction and other forms of unforgivable violence are being extensively and systematically used against women in places of conflict like Darfur and Colombia.
These facts are much more than mere numbers; they demonstrate today’s most grave and pressing human rights issue: rampant violence against women. Whether it is a result of war crimes, racism or “femicide” (as it has been dubbed in both Juarez and Guatemala), the violence is not only a worldwide issue of crime, but rather an insurgence of extreme human rights violations.
There have been many instances of violence worldwide towards women, demonstrating the insanely morbid reality of these nations.
Ever since the Darfur conflict began in 2003, the female population there has endured exorbitant rape, torture, sexual slavery and abuse in addition to the violence and displacement forced upon that population as a whole. Although there were 2,500 rapes reported to UN workers in 2006, the UN estimates that the actual figure is closer to 1,000 rapes per month.
As previously stated, the Canadian government approximates 500 deaths and disappearances of women over the past two decades. The police in Vancouver, British Columbia are currently investigating the disappearance of 60 women from the past 10 years. Sixteen of the 60 women are indigenous. As for the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, more than half of the 30 missing women investigations concern aboriginal women. In disturbing comparison, indigenous women account for only two percent of the country’s overall population but make up over half of the missing victims. According to statistics from the Canadian government, indigenous women between the ages of 25 and 44 are five times more likely than other women to experience fatal violence.
Similar to suffering indigenous communities around the globe, Canada’s native populations have been marginalized by imposed social and economic inequality — the same conditions that push indigenous women into the situations of poverty, homelessness and prostitution that further enable attacks against them.
The disregard for what is said to be an epidemic of violence against women is multi-fold; on one hand, the countries in which the violence is occurring are not doing enough to prevent, control or remedy the problem.
On the other hand, international awareness and media coverage is remarkably low. Even in crises we are familiar with, such as the conditions in Iraq or Darfur, very little is reported about the dire circumstances of the thousands of women caught up in the chaos. Other grim situations, like those of indigenous Canadian, Colombian, Guatemalan and Kenyan women, are hardly publicized at all.
Although there is no way of talking about any one of these situations without overlooking another, the recent situations in places like Canada, Darfur, Mexico and Guatemala are fitting examples of the worldwide problem of gender-based violence. These instances expose a global pattern of historical oppression that has bled into pervasive modern violence and overall negligence to the issue.