Violence against women more prevalent in small communities, says B.C. journalist

Violence against women more prevalent in small communities, says B.C. journalist

In the wake of the #MeToo movement and conversations about sexual abuse, a B.C. journalist has gathered data about the prevalence of violence against women in Canada.

During the data-gathering process, Discourse Media reporter Emma Jones determined that information about gender-based violence in small communities isn't readily available.

"It's easy to see what the rates of ... police reported violence might be in communities like Edmonton, or Vancouver, where I am," Jones told CBC's Radio Active Friday. "But it gets trickier when the communities get smaller — and that's what took us a little more time to find."

Jones went to Statistics Canada to request more detailed information about police-reported violence against women. She gathered data from more than 600 Canadian communities.

Gender-based violence prevalent in remote communities

The data showed that five small communities experienced the most violence against women between 2008 and 2015. Treaty Three communities in Ontario, Iqaluit in Nunavut, La Ronge and North Battleford in Saskatchewan, and St. Paul in Alberta made up the list, Jones said.

"It was surprising for us to kind of see that these were not the major cities, but smaller and more remote communities in Canada," she said.

Support resources might not be accessible for women in small communities, Jones said.

"That's a story across Canada, but I think it's particularly true in communities that are more remote," Jones said. "So for me, this data set was really just an indication that there is a need for these resources in all kinds of communities across Canada — not just the major city centres."

Police-reported data showed that more than 173,000 women over the age of 15 experienced violent crime in 2011, according to Statistics Canada.

Jones said there's one caveat to keep in mind: "The majority of women don't report the violence that they experience to police."

She said this might be the result of a lack of trust in police or the stigma associated with gender-based violence. But Jones said she wants the data to be used to tell stories about violence against women.

The data was used to create an online tool where people can see the 2008-2015 rates of violence against women in more than 600 cities across the country.

Jones said she hopes people use the tool to explore stories about gender-based violence across Canada.

"We really just wanted to share it both with community members and other journalists in hopes that it might spark some other stories and more conversations about what's happening with violence against women in Canada," Jones said.

Listen to Radio Active with host Portia Clark, weekday afternoons on CBC Radio One, 93.9 FM/740 AM in Edmonton. Follow the show on Twitter: @CBCRadioActive.