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Manitoba second-worst for violence against women

The per-capita rate of violence against Manitoba women is almost twice the national average, statistics released on Monday reveal.

A Statistics Canada report found Manitoba had the second-highest rate of police-reported violence toward women for the 10 provinces in 2011.

The report reveals the incidence of violent acts against women among the provinces was highest in Saskatchewan, followed closely by Manitoba.

The lowest rates of police-reported violence were reported in Ontario and Quebec.

The findings for Manitoba and Saskatchewan are not surprising. Statistics Canada says that historically, the incidents of violent acts against women in this country are highest in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

The only areas of the country with higher rates of violence toward women are the three territories: Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

One expert in the field of family and domestic violence said the situation in Manitoba and Saskatchewan is the result of a combination of inadequate policing and a poor record of dealing with offenders.

Jane Ursel, a sociology professor at the University of Manitoba with more than 20 years of research in family and interpersonal violence, said most violent crimes against women in this province are the result of domestic situations, adding Manitoba has one of the highest rates of domestic homicides in the country.

Ursel said the Manitoba government has reduced the number of programs aimed at curtailing domestic violence, including a special unit at the Headingley Correctional Centre that was closed in 2004.

"We've done some backsliding when it comes to the correctional pieces," Ursel said. "And there are pieces in regards to policing that can be improved."

Ursel said Manitoba needs effective prevention and intervention programs.

The crimes surveyed in the report include common assaults, serious physical assaults, sexual assaults, attempted murder, homicide, uttering threats and criminal harassment.

For 2011, Manitoba's rate of violent crime toward women was 2,191 victims per 100,000 population; Saskatchewan had a rate of 2,681. The national rate was 1,207 victims per 100,000 people.

For the 2011 report, Statistics Canada included females 15 years of age and older.

A similar report in 2008 produced almost identical findings: Saskatchewan (2,563) and Manitoba (1,921) had the highest rates of violence crime toward women -- almost twice the national rate (1,155); and the lowest rates were reported in Quebec (936) and Ontario (941). For that report, Statistics Canada only used women 18 and older.

For the 2011 report, Statistics Canada found women in Manitoba were much more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than men.

The national rate of police-reported violent crime against women was about five per cent higher than the national rate for men. However, the gap in Manitoba was much larger -- a 23 per cent difference.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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