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International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25th November)

500 victims of violent crimes in Canada - Indigenous women in especial need of protection!

Bolzano/Bozen, Göttingen, 23. November 2006

At least 500 indigenous women and girls have fallen victim to violent crimes in Canada in the past 20 years or have simply "disappeared". On the occasion of the UN Day for the Emilination of Violence against Women (Saturday, 25th November) the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) draws attention to this. "500 victims in two decades, that means on average two murdered, raped or abducted indigenous women every month since 1986", criticised the GfbV correspondent for Indigenous People, Yvonne Bangert, on Thursday in Göttingen. "These dramatic figures show in what great misery the indigenous people of Canada are living even today. The women are particularly defenceless, for they are doubly discriminated, both as indigenous and as women. So the human rights organisation appealed to the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to take immediate measures for the protection of these women.

The GfbV alongside other European human rights organisations supports the Sisters in Spirit campaign of the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) and ai-Canada. They call on the Canadian government to put into practice at long last the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, CEDAW (1979), a document which has been signed by 180 states, for all women without distinction of ethnic background. The NWAC, which has initiated the campaign, calls for an immediate and comprehensive action plan to stop violence against indigenous women. For this to be implemented the following measures are needed: An immediate and encompassing action plan to stop discrimination and violence against Indigenous women, immediate measures to fundamentally change the social and economic conditions of the Aboriginal communities, establishment of a special task force and appropriate institutions where indigenous women can find assistance and protection, a fund provided to the indigenous organisations to document the situation and criminal prosecution of the perpetrators. since they all too frequently go unpunished.

Particularly notorious is the violence against native women in British Columbia. Since 1989 nine indigenous women aged between 15 and 25 years were raped and murdered on the "Highway of Tears", Highway 16, in the Canadian Pacific province. However it was only when in 2002 a 26- year old hitch-hiker, a woman who was not an Indian, was murdered on that road that the interest of the media was awakened. At the beginning of February 2006 the body of Aielah Saric-Auger was found. The indigenous girl from Prince George was only 14 years old. The appeal of the NWAC, which the GfbV supports with an eMail campaign, is carried in Europe by the Aktions Gruppe Indianer und Menschenrechte (AGIM), Menschenrechte 3000 in Germany, the Arbeitskreis Indianer Nordamerikas (AKIN) in Austria and Incomindios-International Committee for the Indians of America in Switzerland and Italy.

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