In August 2021, the BC Office of the Human Rights Commissioner (BCOHRC) launched a human rights inquiry into surging hate during the COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2022, West Coast LEAF made written submissions to the inquiry regarding the concerning rise in the incidents and severity of gender-based violence, particularly intimate partner violence, during the pandemic.
The BCOHRC included in its context for the inquiry a national survey that found that during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown in Canada, gender-based violence was more severe and more frequent, with abusers’ tactics becoming more violent with a higher risk of lethality. Gender-based violence has been found to consistently increase during times of crisis, especially for those who face harms and inequities because of intersecting forms of marginalization.
West Coast LEAF welcomes the BCOHRC’s inclusion of gender-based violence as a form of hate under study in this inquiry. While some forms of gender-based violence have been characterized or viewed as hate, other forms of gender-based violence, such as intimate partner violence, have not always been viewed through that lens. Considering intimate partner violence through the lens of hate provides an opportunity to identify, name, and address the root societal prejudices that sustain and provoke this type of violence.
Our submissions aimed to inform the BCOHRC’s understanding of intimate partner violence as a phenomenon rooted in prejudice. The submissions addressed:
- The need for an intersectional approach to all forms of hate
- Intimate partner violence as a hate phenomenon
- Recommendations to the BCOHRC on creating normative changes
The BCOHRC’s inquiry creates a venue to work towards identifying and transforming the harmful social norms and prejudices that sustain and fuel gender-based violence, and to contribute to a discourse that identifies and challenges harmful gender norms.