Myrna Dawson, a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the executive director of the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability, spoke to The Globe and Mail after the federal government announced it was doubling its emergency funding to help women and families fleeing violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dawson, who leads U of G’s Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence, applauded the funding but said the “pandemic” of intimate partner violence began long before the COVID-19 pandemic and that anti-violence organizations have been “consistently underfunded.”
She added it would be premature to say whether COVID-19 has led to an increase in the number of intimate-partner homicides in Canada.
“Just because there hasn’t been an increase in deaths doesn’t mean there hasn’t been an increase in other forms of violence against women and girls, which by all accounts there has been. And we’ve heard this from the front-line agencies that have been working tirelessly to respond to a situation that no one has been adequately prepared for,” Dawson said.
Holder of the Canada Research Chair in Public Policy in Criminal Justice, Dawson studies trends in and social and legal responses to violence, particularly violence against women and femicide.