Tuesday, July 25, 2000
Higher rate of domestic violence for
unmarried couples in Canada
A report released today by Statistics Canada estimates that
an estimated 1.2 million men and women faced some form of violence in their marriage or
common-law relationship during the five years up to and including 1999, according to a
survey on victimization and spousal violence.
Data from the 1999 General Social Survey show that an
estimated 8% of women and 7% of men who were married or living in a "common-law
relationship" during the previous five-year period experienced some type of violence
committed by their partner on at least one occasion. This amounts to about 690,000 women
and 549,000 men.
An unmarried man and woman who live together in Canada a
spousal-like relationship are referred to as living in a "common law
While men reported a significant amount of violence, the
survey showed that the nature and consequences of spousal violence were more severe for
Younger women and men, and couples in common-law unions, were
at the greatest risk of being assaulted by a spouse or partner. In addition, women and men
whose partners were emotionally abusive or who drank heavily were more likely to
experience spousal violence than women and men whose partners were not emotionally abusive
or who drank moderately or not at all.
In the majority of cases, spousal violence did not consist of
an isolated incident. The frequency of violence directed at women by their partners was
significantly greater than the frequency of violence directed at men by their partners.
Overall, 61% of people who reported spousal violence had been
victimized on more than one occasion during the five-year period prior to the survey.
In addition to exposure to more severe forms of violence,
women in violent unions were more likely than men to report repeated victimizations.
Sixty-five percent of women who reported being assaulted by a partner said they were
victimized on more than one occasion. Twenty-six percent said they were victimized more
than 10 times in the five years before the survey.
In contrast, 54% of men who experienced marital violence in
the previous five-year period were the targets of more than one such incident, and 13%
said it happened more than 10 times.
Younger women and men were at greater risk of experiencing
spousal violence than were older people. About 5% of young women under the age of 25
reported at least one incident of violence in a current union during the 12 months prior
to the survey, compared with 1% of women 45 and over. Similarly, men 25 to 34 were four
times as likely to report an incident of violence than their older counterparts.
The risk of being a victim of spousal violence was also much
higher for women and men living in common-law unions. About 4% of those living in a
common-law union reported spousal violence during the 12 months before the survey,
compared with 1% of those who were married.
The report is entitled "Family violence in Canada: A
statistical profile. (2000)" The electronic version can be downloaded from Statistics
Canada's Web site (www.statcan.ca). From the Products
and services page, choose Downloadable publications (free).
Monday, July 24, 2000
Bias against single parents a problem in China
A story published today in the South China Morning Post reports that at least 30 per cent
of people in china are biased against single-parent families, according to a new survey.
About one-third of 514 respondents to a Caritas-Hong Kong
survey said such families were abnormal while 40 per cent agreed people with such
backgrounds were being discriminated against. The Catholic charity has called on the new
Women's Commission to list problems faced by single parents as its priority.
The survey also found that more than 40 per cent of
respondents believed single parents had character problems and should not have too many
The spokesman for a Caritas Youth and Community Services
taskforce on single parents, Bill Lay Yan-piau, said: "The survey results showed
problems of discrimination against single-parent families exist."
But many of the people who held discriminatory attitudes were
not aware of their bias and did not have sufficient knowledge about single-parent
families. The survey found about 10 per cent of respondents admitted they had a negative
impression about single-parent families while 84 per cent said they were
"neutral" or "positive".
About 90 per cent overestimated the amount of Comprehensive
Social Security Assistance single-parent
families are entitled to.
Mr. Lay said members of single-parent families were given
about $1,800 a month on average, but a minority of respondents - more than three per cent
- thought they could receive up to $15,000 a month. About 40 per cent believed single
parents abused the welfare payment system.
"Many people are not aware that they're actually harming
people from single-parent families by saying things like, 'Oh, you don't have a husband'
or 'Poor you, you don't have a dad'," Mr. Lay said.
He said many single parents dared not tell their neighbors
and employers about their families.
He said Caritas would urge the Women's Commission, the Equal
Opportunities Commission, the Civic Education Commission and relevant government
departments to address discrimination problems.
Friday, July 21, 2000
British Columbia to rule on same-sex marriages
A story published today by Reuters reports that the attorney
general of British Columbia will ask the provincial Supreme Court to decide if same-sex
couples are entitled to become legally married in Canada.
Attorney general Andrew Petter said he does not think the
federal common law definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman is still
legal in the wake of recent court rulings.
"The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled Canadians cannot
be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation," Petter said in a
The story said the petition seeking legal guidance will be
filed with the British Columbia Supreme Court.
The issue of same-sex unions came to a head in May when two
Victoria women applied for a marriage permit. Officials have not decided whether to grant
it. Two men were denied a license when they applied in 1998.
"Given the uncertainty of the law and the importance of
the issue, I believe we should seek guidance from the courts before making a determination
that could otherwise deny people their constitutional rights," Petter said.
Petter said federal lawmakers could also resolve the issue by
revising the marriage rules.
Vermont this year became the first state in the United States
to grant legal recognition to same-sex couples under a procedure known as "civil
union." Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and the Netherlands have similar
"registered partnership" laws.