It was around 6 p.m. on September 19th, 2022 that a woman was fatally stabbed at a Canadian Tire in Heartland Mississauga. The 22-year-old victim, Chandanpreet Kaur, was stabbed by her husband of 3 years Charanjeet Singh, 26 years old. Charanjeet Singh has been arrested for the first-degree murder of his wife. With grieving hearts, we mourn with the victim’s family and also acknowledge that across Canada and internationally, gender-based violence continues to be a prevalent issue, especially during the pandemic.
People of all backgrounds, identities, and circumstances can experience violence, but women, girls, and people from minority groups experience gender-based violence (GBV) at an exponential rate. Many marginalized groups of women face greater barriers and discrimination, making them even more at risk – this includes women with disabilities, Indigenous women, racialized women, transgender, and non-binary people, and homeless or under-housed women. This intersectional understanding also applies to marginalized groups having more difficulty accessing services that meet their needs – such as women needing culturally sensitive support, services in a specific language, or having accessibility needs met in seeking support.
In 2020, 160 women were killed because of GBV, and in 2021 it increased to 173 women. According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, a woman is killed every six days by her intimate partner in Canada. Women with an immigrant status are often at a higher risk of GBV due to many factors including social isolation, language barriers, lack of service awareness, and racism. COVID-19 and the pandemic have also contributed to the increasing levels of GBV in Canada and worldwide by putting more emotional and physical strain on marital relationships, while access to resources and funding for those resources decreased.
GBV is not limited to a particular country or community. It is a symptom of the patriarchy which manifests differently in various cultures or groups. GBV is often almost normalized in media and in daily life, despite efforts from agencies, individuals, and movements to bring awareness to it. Especially during the pandemic, we have seen a dire need for more resources for survivors. For example, shelter homes have been overflooded, and there is a shortage of space available for women in need (Lapierre et al., 2022).
In the case of Chandanpreet Kaur, this matter of femicide points to how gender-based violence is pervasive. This tragedy is one of many that should push us to re-evaluate the justice systems we have in place and the stigma around GBV. It is important to recognize that this is not an isolated issue and that violence against women is perpetuated by patriarchal systems which work to sustain gender inequality and oppression. More awareness of GBV and funding to prevent its prevalence is required.