Canada needs to step up and protect women: Senator Boisvenu
Like many women who have experienced domestic violence, I welcomed the December 1, 2021 announcement that the Quebec government will soon be requiring offenders convicted of domestic violence to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.
I commend the strenuous efforts put forward by Geneviève Guilbault, the deputy premier and Minister of Public Safety, and Isabelle Charest, the Minister for Education and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women. Having met with them several times over the past few months to advocate for victims of domestic violence, I found them approachable and willing to listen as we discussed this important tool that so many victims have been calling for.
Six countries, including Spain, have already introduced electronic bracelets as a means of keeping violent abusers away from their former partners. Spain has been using this device for over 10 years, and studies have proven that it is effective at saving lives.
This announcement turned December 1, into an important day for victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence is a crime that is growing steadily. It is claiming the lives of hundreds of women across the country and accounts for 30% of violent crimes reported to police. This historic decision by the Quebec government comes after 18 Quebec women were murdered by their partners or former partners since the beginning of 2021. Most of those homicides were committed during the early stages of the criminal process, often while the accused was out on bail.
On November 24, I tabled my Bill S-205 in the Senate to curb domestic and family violence. All of the women who collaborated with me on the bill told me that it is vital for a judge to be able to require a violent partner or former partner to wear an electronic bracelet as soon as he is released on bail while awaiting trial. This is a matter of life and death, because, sadly, the women tend to be killed during this waiting period. The past year has provided ample evidence of this, as many abusers have failed to comply with court conditions requiring them to stay away from their victims.
Now the ball is in the Senate’s court. It needs to act swiftly and pass my bill, which would amend the Criminal Code and empower judges to require electronic bracelets to be worn by accused abusers who pose a serious risk to women’s safety while awaiting trial, or who are under a court order to stay away from the victim.
The Quebec government’s decision directly supports my mission to end violence against women. The federal government needs to step up and take urgent action so that Canada can also become a leader in protecting women from domestic violence.
As we mark the 12 Days of Action to End Violence Against Women, the Liberal government needs to seize this opportunity and do its part. Justin Trudeau needs to finally start listening to women who have experienced domestic violence. After encouraging women to report their abusers, he cannot sit idly by while so many women are being murdered or living in fear of their lives every day.
Enough is enough.
Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu represents the division of La Salle in Quebec.
A version of this article appeared in the December 4, 2021 edition of the Journal de Montréal (available in French only).