An Increase in Violence against Caribbean women


By Debbie Ali

Gender based violence

With the increasing prevalence of violence against women around the world, one must wonder why these horrifying statistics are swept under the rug.  To set the record straight, many men are assaulted and are victims of violence as well; however, the number of female victims far outweighs that of males. Even more so, the costs associated with dealing with the repercussions of abuse and violence is in the billions of tax payers’ dollars.  Here are some statistics collected by various organizations around the world that are sure to shock you:

  • 1 woman is assaulted every 17 minutes
  • Every 73 seconds a woman is raped
  • 1 in 10 women are assaulted in a post secondary institution
  • 1 in 4 girls is assaulted by the age of 18
  • 1 in 3 women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime (WHO,2016)
  • 9 in 10 incidents of reported sexual assaults in Canada are against women and half of these are against individuals between the ages of 15 -24 (
  • 57% of aboriginal women have been sexually assaulted
  • Visible minority women and non-visible minority women are equally likely to be victims of abuse

It is important to note that these figures are not a true reflection of the actual number of women assaulted since it is estimated that over 85% of women who suffer do not file reports with the authorities. Equally important note is that the LGBTQ2 community largely comprises the sector that is labeled a minority sector along with ‘black’ women.  Are all of these individuals of African heritage?  Is due consideration being given to those of the many other cultural backgrounds that hail from around the world and indeed from the Caribbean? Or is it that they are all plastered with the same ‘black brush’?

This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as abuse and sexual violence is concerned. However, research has little to offer on the number of Caribbean-based women (and men) who are abused, violated and sexually assaulted daily and yearly. This begs several questions:

  • Why are minority groups painted with the same brush of being ‘black’, when in fact the Caribbean is just as cosmopolitan as Canada itself? There is every race, ethnicity, culture and religion represented in Canada.
  • Why is so little emphasis placed on the scourge of violence within the Caribbean community?
  • Are the powers that be interested in delving into these issues that are rampant in the West Indian community?
  • Are there any services and personnel specially trained to deal with the unique backgrounds, cultures and beliefs from which West Indians hail?

Many West Indians hold down jobs that fall under the essential services sector and so are exposed to sexual harassment in the workplace.  Newly arrived immigrants from the Caribbean are happy to take up these types of jobs in warehouses, the transportation systems and other environments where they may be taken advantage of; too many of those taken advantage of are women, who remain silent to hold on to their sources of income.

I leave you with burning questions; what are we, as members of the Caribbean community, living, working and contributing to the Canadian economy, going to do about our own issues and needs? Will we settle for being ignored in our areas of concern and treated as second class citizens when our contribution to the Canadian economy is no meager thing? Or will we band together in our unique way regardless of race, culture, religion, gender and socio-economic status, to rally a cry to be recognized for our uncommon needs?

Look out of an upcoming column on coping with depression, stress, anxiety, abuse and so much more.