| November 25, 2008 at 12:45 pm
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The Aboriginal Women's Action Network has joined the chorus of voices supporting the UN CEDAW Committee's call on the federal government for an inquiry into Canada's missing and murdered women.
“The UN CEDAW Committee has clearly recognized the gravity of the documented disappearances and murders of 511 Aboriginal women and girls from communities across Canada, and wants to understand how a lack of adequate response occurred,” says Carrie Humchitt, President of the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network (AWAN).
In British Columbia over the last twenty years, dozens of Aboriginal women and girls have gone missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and along the ‘Highway of Tears’, a stretch of road that runs between Prince George and Prince Rupert. Many of these missing women and girls have been found murdered.
“Aboriginal women and girls have been treated by violent men, and by authorities, as though their safety and their lives do not matter. Bringing the facts into the light is essential if Canada is to fulfill its commitment to treating Aboriginal women and girls as human beings of equal dignity and worth,” says Humchitt.
The high level of stranger violence experienced by Aboriginal women is not the Committee’s only concern, Humchitt notes.
“The Committee is also concerned about the poverty of Aboriginal women, their poor health, inadequate housing, lack of access to clean water, low school completion rates, and the high levels of child apprehension from Aboriginal parents. The Committee urges Canada to develop a comprehensive and integrated plan for addressing the conditions of Aboriginal women as a matter of urgency.”
“These recommendations need to be implemented immediately and conscientiously by all levels of governments, working together and with Aboriginal women’s organizations,” says Humchitt. “Aboriginal women need their human rights to be taken seriously. It is long overdue.”
The United Nations is calling on the Harper government to investigate why hundreds of deaths and disappearances of aboriginal women remain unsolved.
It's asking Ottawa to report back in a year on the status of more than 500 cases that "have neither been fully investigated nor attracted priority attention, with the perpetrators remaining unpunished."
The UN committee on the elimination of discrimination against women wants Canada to "urgently carry out thorough investigations" to trace how and why the justice system failed.
"It also urges the state party to carry out an analysis of those cases in order to determine whether there is a racialized pattern to the disappearances and take measures to address the problem if that is the case," says one of more than 40 recommendations.