The London Police Services Board has voted to draft a letter to the federal government to get femicide included in the Criminal Code of Canada, to make it easier to charge it as a hate crime.
The recommendation come from LPSB member Megan Walker and was unanimously supported by fellow board members.
Walker is the former executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre and a strong supporter of women who are victims of abuse.
The definition of femicide is the killing of one or more females because they are females.
“One of the things that’s really important to recognize is that there is a common understanding of what femicide is, which is the killings of women, but there is no Criminal Code definition, which makes it difficult for the police to lay charges labelled as femicide,” Walker said.
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The discussion was prompted after a London Police Services Board meeting on May 19, where board members discussed the hate-related crimes and incidents report.
At the meeting in May, Walker said she believes there is a gap in the report regarding hatred toward women.
Walker said that without naming women as victims of hate crimes, it’s challenging to acknowledge femicide, the intentional killing of women because they are women.
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The outcome of the meeting was to look into the matter further and look at how gender data breakdown can be included in future hate crimes statistics reports.
Walker said it is hard to prove femicide without it being formally defined in the Criminal Code of Canada.
“Every 36 hours in this country, a woman or girl is murdered, and I find that to be just tragic and extremely sad, and I do believe that by naming this as femicide, by establishing a hate crime, under those circumstances where the crime is motivated by hate, we can go a long way in preventing the deaths and murders of women and girls in our country,” Walker said.
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To try and address this, the board will draft the letter that will be sent to all local members of Parliament, the prime minister, the deputy prime minister and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti.
Once the letter is finished, the board also plans to reach out to other agencies supporting women for their input and ask them to co-sign.
Among other things the board voted in favour of was that the board update policies for hate-motivated crimes and domestic violence occurrences and direct the chief of police to require that officers investigating these incidents include if it’s an instance where a woman is being targeted.
Walker’s final recommendation that was approved was that the board update its procedures to require the chief to include in the annual report the demographic information on known perpetrators of hate-bias motivated crimes and the demographic information of victims of homicide — specifically to represent their sex.
“The notation in this is that the section would then be later updated upon a Criminal Code definition of femicide to be femicide,” she said.
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