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National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women - Statement

November 25th to December 10th marks this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. One of the most important of those days for Canada is December 6th: The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.


On December 6th, we commemorate the victims of the École Polytechnique massacre, in which 14 women lost their lives and 10 more were injured, simply because they were women encroaching on what their killer perceived to be men’s domain.


Sadly, thirty years after that massacre, violence against women remains an endemic problem in Canada. Rates of sexual assault and intimate partner violence are too high, and disproportionately affect women - especially women who are already vulnerable.


One way that intimate partner violence often manifests itself is through reproductive coercion - when one person tries to pressure another into becoming pregnant, refuses to use contraception against their partner's wishes, or sabotages their partner's use of contraception. One US study showed that reproductive coercion is distressingly common: 19% of women experiencing intimate partner violence also experienced pressure from their partner to become pregnant, and 15% experienced birth control sabotage.


“Too often, intimate partner violence and reproductive coercion go hand-in-hand,” said Devon Black, co-founder of AccessBC. “Unfortunately, one of the biggest barriers to accessing contraception is cost, and in abusive relationships it’s common for the abusive partner to try to control every aspect of the relationship - including finances.”

An intra-uterine device (IUD) can cost $75 to $380, oral contraceptive pills can cost $20 per month, and hormone injections as much as $180 per year. “For people in abusive relationships, these cost barriers can make it impossible to access the contraception, especially if their abuser controls their finances or monitors their health insurance claims,” says Teale Phelps Bondaroff, co-founder and Chair of AccessBC.

On the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, AccessBC calls on the Government of British Columbia and the Legislative Assembly to ensure that the 2020 budget includes provisions to make all forms of prescription contraception be made universally accessible at not cost for any citizen.


Furthermore, we call on the government to ensure that all community clinics, hospitals, and identified health care sites are supported to carry a full complement of contraception to ensure that choice is available based on the needs and personal preference of the individual seeking the contraception. 


“The most effective way to protect against reproductive coercion is to eliminate other barriers that make accessing contraception harder - that’s one reason AccessBC wants to ensure that everyone living in BC can access prescription contraception,” said Devon Black. “Universal, no-cost prescription contraception will give everyone access to the tools they need to fight against reproductive coercion, and help ensure that we can all make reproductive choices free from intimidation and violence.”

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