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Human Rights Crisis

    If you are an Indigenous woman or girl in Canada—whether you live on reserve or in an urban area, regardless of your age or socio-economic status—the simple fact that you are an Indigenous woman or girl means that you are at least 3 times more likely to experience violence, and at least 6 times more likely to be murdered than any other woman or girl in Canada. This violence is a national human rights crisis and it must stop.

    Why are the rates of violence so high?

    • Racist and sexist stereotypes lead perpetrators to believe that they can get away with committing acts of violence against Indigenous women and girls.

    • The many legacies of colonialism increase the risk of experiencing violence—from impoverishment to the lasting harm from residential schools to the disempowerment of Indigenous women and girls in their own communities.

    • Decades of government and law enforcement inaction to end the violence.

    How many Indigenous women and girls have experienced violence, gone missing, or been murdered?

    No one knows exactly how many Indigenous sisters have experienced violence, or how many lives have been stolen, because officials have not been consistently keeping count.

    • According to a report released by the RCMP in May 2014—the first official federal effort to determine how many Indigenous women and girls have gone missing or been murdered—1,017 Indigenous women and girls were murdered from 1980-2012. Because of gaps in police and government reporting, officials have now stated that the true number may be much higher.

    • Indigenous women are far more likely than non-Indigenous women to experience violence. In a 2009 government survey of the ten provinces, Aboriginal women were nearly three times more likely than non-Aboriginal women to report being a victim of a violent crime.

    • The high rates of violence threaten the lives of Indigenous women and girls from all walks of life, in every region of the country, on reserve, and in major Canadian cities. The perpetrators include Indigenous and non-Indigenous men alike.

    • The violence experienced by Indigenous women is more severe. The Homicide Survey released by Statistics Canada in 2015 revealed that Indigenous women were at least 6 times more likely to be murdered than non-Indigenous women.

    • Some patterns of violence facing Indigenous women and girls are different from those facing non-Indigenous women. For example, according to the RCMP report released in May 2014, Indigenous women are more likely than non-Indigenous women to be murdered by what the police call acquaintances—friends, colleagues, neighbours and other men who are not intimate partners or spouses.

    What needs to happen to stop the violence?

    A concerted, national response that is comprehensive, coordinated, well resourced, and developed in collaboration with Indigenous women and girls themselves. It should include:

    • A national action plan to end violence against women which addresses the root causes of violence and identifies holistic, culturally-appropriate ways in which to prevent violence and to support those impacted by violence.

    • A national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women focused on exposing the nature of this violence and on ensuring government and police accountability for an effective and coordinated response.

    • Regular, comprehensive collection of data on violence against Indigenous women in official crime statistics.

    Amnesty International stands in solidarity with the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and Indigenous peoples’ organizations to demand real action now to prevent more sisters from being stolen. 

    Learn more

    What’s behind the numbers?