(Dis)Counting Victims: Indigenous Femicide/Feminicide and the Courts

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 15:00
Oral Presentation
Myrna DAWSON, University of Guelph, Canada
In addition to the ongoing legacy of colonization, the high risk of indigenous women and girls to violence, including femicide/feminicide, is believed to stem from the perceived impunity of their perpetrators and inadequate state responses, similar to other world regions where rates of these crimes are high. For example, some research shows that about one half of Canadian Indigenous femicides remain unsolved. No charges are laid in many other cases. However, the continued absence of systematic data that can link case characteristics to investigation, prosecution and punishment processes and outcomes has largely prevented a systematic examination into criminal justice responses to violence against Indigenous women. This dearth of data is common internationally despite the fact that understanding how the law’s symbolic – and real – response might be contributing to risk for these women and girls is paramount. Drawing from data that documents four decades of femicide/feminicide in Canada's most populous province of Ontario, this paper examines court responses to cases involving Indigenous women and girls, compared to cases involving non-indigenous victims, demonstrating some significant patterns while underscoring the need for better data that document law’s real response to these killings.