The Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability website states that: “One woman or girl is killed every other day, on average, somewhere in our country. About once a week, a woman is killed by her male partner in Canada.” Femicide is not something that is new in Canada — for the most part, it’s an issue that is often concealed or has never had any light shed on it.
We often hear stories about women being killed by men. The occurrence of children being killed was something many of us have never heard of, but a lot of that changed on Thursday night when Canadians got notifications on their phone for an amber alert, leaving them startled that an 11-year-old had been abducted by her own father. Shortly after another notification popped up, the amber alert was called off when the little girl was found, which was an instant relief — until it was revealed that she was found deceased in a Brampton home.
Her name was Riya Rajkumar. She was murdered on Valentine’s Day, where she most likely spent an eventful day in her fifth-grade class surrounded by chocolates and cards. It was also her birthday — she later went out with her father Roopesh Rajkumar, which was something that was the norm for her. A day filled with joy and love where she was supposed to be showered with happiness ended with her murder. Her precious life was stolen from her — she was killed by the man that was supposed to love her the most, her father. Many woke up with heavy hearts that day and still carry a heavy heart till this day that a senseless act of violence had occurred. I could not stop thinking about Riya the whole day — it still shocks me that something like this happened minutes from where I live.
There is a much bigger issue at play here — femicide. This is sadly not the first case of women and girls being killed by their family members. When we think about this, we often rationalize it by saying this is something that is happening in third world countries, but its happening here, in my city, in yours, and every city around us. Women have historically always been targeted for centuries, but this is preventable. It starts with changing the upbringing of boys, rather than blaming women for “bringing it on themselves.”
I have said it in another article and will say it again: boys have been taught from when they were little to not cry and express their feelings because they are a boy — that sticks with them for years, and they bottle up their feelings. This is why there is a stigma around mental health among men, it’s largely due to the upbringing that causes them to go through such troubles.
We as a society will grow only when men stop treating women as disposable items, someone that can easily be wiped from this earth.
We as a society need to start realizing our issues and not storing them away under a carpet — we need to start bringing some light to these issues that affect so many. There are several steps we need to take to put an end to femicide — Femicide In Canada has given a framework as to how we can do this:
“This framework was developed with the knowledge that no single factor accounts for risk but rather that the interaction among many factors at four levels – individual, relationship, community and societal – contributes to the outcome of violence and, ultimately, femicide. Brief descriptions of the four levels are provided here and expanded upon below:
- Individual-level factors include personal history and biological factors (e.g. experiencing childhood maltreatment, alcohol or substance abuse histories).
- Relationship-level factors include family, friends, intimate partners, and peers who may increase or protect against risk of violence.
- Community-level factors refers to those contexts in which social interactions occur (e.g. schools, workplaces, neighborhoods).
- Societal-level factors refer to social and cultural norms that may influence acceptance or rejection of violence as well as social structures, and institutional policies and practices that produce harmful or preventive outcomes in relation to violence.”
This is not an issue that is prominent in just Canada, but nearly every other country as well. Different countries need to make a plan as to how they are going to address this issue and start implementing it, rather than never speaking up about it.
Click HERE to help Riya’s family by making donations for her funeral costs.
(Featured Image Credit: RetakeRoma.org)