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Have your say: How do we confront violence against women, at home and abroad? Add to ...

Craig and Marc Kielburger founded Free The Children and Me to We. Their biweekly Brain Storm column taps experts and readers for solutions to social issues.

The horrific gang rape and death of a young woman in New Delhi last month has awoken India’s citizens to a deeply rooted social illness. Hopefully it has also drawn the world’s attention to a global pandemic that takes many forms, and remains all too present in virtually every society.

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The United Nations estimates that women between the ages of 15 and 44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer. We can’t be complacent here in Canada, where it’s estimated that 50 per cent of Canadian women will experience physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime.

In India, women have taken their outrage to the streets in an extraordinary campaign to modernize laws and attitudes. Expressions of anger and solidarity have come from around the world, but most observers agree that more is needed to combat such an appalling and intractable problem.

This week’s question: What can we do to address violence against women, at home and in countries far away?

The experts:

Vineeta Srivastava, lecturer, Udaipur School of Social Work

“In India, women are fighting for equality. We need the international community to pressure the Indian government to create laws and machinery that provide a safe and dignified environment for women. Canadians should demand that their government impose these conditions before they enter into any agreement, whether business or otherwise, with India.”

Afshan Khan, CEO, Women for Women International

“In addition to ending impunity for those who perpetrate violence against women, we must raise our voices in support of women survivors, encourage women’s economic and political participation to give them greater standing in society, and proactively engage men as allies in changing the norms and attitudes towards women that lead to violence.”

Beverley Wybrow, president and CEO, Canadian Women’s Foundation

“Ending violence against women in Canada requires public education, violence prevention programs and a strong criminal justice response. Ask your elected representatives what they are doing to end violence by these means.”

Have your say in the comment section.

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