Canadian Senator the Honorable Pierre-Hugues Boisevenu

Boisvenu founded the “Murdered or Missing Persons’ Families’ Association” after the 2002 kidnapping, forcible confinement, rape and murder of his daughter Julie. Boisvenu then began advocating for the rights of victims of crime, especially for the families of murdered or missing persons.

Hon. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu: Honourable senators, I rise today to mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence that are taking place across Canada from November 25 to December 10, 2022.

As you know, my mission here in the Senate, and the fight I am waging more broadly, is dedicated to the memory of my daughter Julie, who was murdered by a repeat offender. She is with me everywhere I go, and she gives me the strength I need every day to fight the scourge of violence against women and girls in our country.

My first thoughts, colleagues, are for all those women who were murdered in 2022 because they were women and because many of them dared to say, “Enough is enough.”

According to the Ontario Association of Interval &Transition Houses, a woman has been murdered every week in Ontario since November 26, 2021. That’s 52 femicides in 52 weeks. In Canada, a woman is murdered every two days; in Quebec, a woman is murdered every two weeks. There was a 23% increase in the number of women and girls murdered in Canada between 2019 and 2021.

Femicide is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of all violence against women. Every day, far too many women suffer various forms of violence in silence. Every day, hundreds of them have to hide, leave home, move away with their children, quit their jobs, and leave everything behind to flee a violent abuser when they are the ones who are the victims.

Colleagues, we need to stand up and fight every time a woman is murdered in our country. We need to voice our outrage and never let ourselves become numb to the news of further assaults on women. We can never back down as long as there is a single woman being abused in our country.

As senators, we have been entrusted, under the Constitution of Canada, with the privilege of changing the laws of our country. This is our collective responsibility as legislators. We have a duty to take action to save these women’s lives. Our courage is not defined by our words, but by our actions.

As the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence begin, men need to raise their voices and speak out against this violence. Above all, however, men need to make this violence a men’s issue, starting withraising awareness among our young people, who often express their feelings through violence. Violent men need to get help, because ti is the only way they can break free of the vicious cycle of domestic violence.

Yes, we have to keep encouraging victims to report violence, but let’s not forget that reporting violence has been fatal to some women, because our justice system failed to protect them. It is up to us to do something about that.

Honourable colleagues, I am counting on you to join me in speaking out in this issue. Wear a white ribbon as a way of sending a message to abused women: “We hear you. Enough is enough.”

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