Examining regional variations in social and legal responsiveness to violence against women in Canada

This project is funded by the Canada Research Chair program. The Principal Investigator is Dr. Myrna Dawson. 

crc logoInternationally, Canada was one of the first countries to introduce legal reforms to respond to intimate partner, domestic and sexual violence and to provide funding for shelters and crisis centres, representing an early and high degree of government responsiveness. If this is still the case and whether responsiveness to violence against women is equitable across the country is a timely question. A recent international study did not identify Canada as one of the countries that had legislation containing key components recommended by the Pan American Health Organization and the United Nations to help strengthen violence against women prevention and to provide better integrated victim protection, support and care (Ortiz-Barreda and Vives-Cases 2013).

The current study constructs Canadian provincial/territorial legislative/policy profiles for domestic/family/intimate partner violence to examine variations in social, legal, and government responsiveness. Our approach is descriptive, historical and comparative in its focus with the goal of better understanding the evolution and existence of legislation/policy resources that target various forms of violence against women across Canada. This knowledge is integral to moving forward because we argue, as others have before us, that ‘government responsiveness’ can symbolically portray how important a social problem is perceived in particular regions as well as the practical solutions seen as most appropriate for responding (e.g. emphasis on health, social or criminal justice initiatives). The hypothesis to be tested is that, despite nationally-mandated initiatives targeting domestic/family/intimate partner violence, there will be provincial/territorial variations in the level of government responsiveness as of 2016.