Mr. Speaker, a number of years ago Nellie Nippard was stabbed 33 times by her husband and left for dead. By some miracle Ms. Nippard survived and today works with the women's organizations in Newfoundland.
Just two years ago another woman, Brenda Young, suffered multiple stab wounds at the hands of her boyfriend while her two young children slept in the other room. Unfortunately Ms. Young did not survive her attack.
Both of these women are from my home province of Newfoundland. One of them lived in my riding of St. John's East. The violence they endured was extreme but unfortunately it is not rare.
There are thousands of women in Newfoundland and across the country who live in fear and are subject to violence. In spite of the good work and good will which exists across the country for enhancing the security and safety of women, the violence persists.
Statistics show that more than half of all women in the country have experienced at least one incident of violence, as defined under the Criminal Code, in their adult lives. Twenty-five per cent of women have experienced violence at the hands of a current or past marital partner. On average, a woman is killed every six days in Canada, often in a private home or by someone she knows.
Women make up 59 per cent of all homicide victims killed in a domestic relationship. Forty-two per cent of women surveyed in 1993 reported they felt unsafe walking in their neighbourhood after dark, over four times the figure of men.
Despite the statistics, some cling to the belief that the problem is not that bad or dismiss it as a women's issue. This problem needs to be addressed. The eradication of violence against women can be accomplished only with the full partnership of all members of society.
This can no longer remain a women's issue. Violence against women affects us all. When women are abused there are costs to the victim, the family and to society. Taxpayers pay significant sums of money in medical costs for doctors, hospital emergency wards and medical health clinics; in criminal justice, costs for police services, courts and corrections; and in social service, costs for welfare, housing and daycare. As well, employers pay for violence against women in higher absentee costs and low productivity rates.
The most recent example of how violence against women affects more than just the victim was raised in the Newfoundland Select Committee on Children's Interests. The committee has been holding public hearings across the province. It heard from the administrator of the Iris Kirby House, a women's shelter in my riding, about how devastating domestic violence can be for our children.
The committee heard how children who witness family violence show signs of low self-esteem, which leads to a lack of self-confidence and a feeling of insecurity. As these children get older, depression, withdrawal and pessimism set in, leading to suicidal tendencies, drug dependency and emotional instability.
These children often do poorly in school because they have difficulty concentrating, are frequently absent and show behavioural problems. Also, research shows that children who witness violence in the home are more likely to live in a violent relationship in their adult lives.
We are approaching December 6, which some may not realize is the national day of remembrance and action on violence against women. It is a time for us to pause and remember the 14 women who died tragically at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal six years ago. As important as December 6 is, we need more than just one day of awareness about violence against women. We need to take action on a daily basis.
We need to continue to provide support and funding for the various women's shelters and treatment programs which provide cost effective support and services.
I know the government has taken action over the past two years to address the issue of violence against women, but I would like the parliamentary secretary to assure my constituents and all Canadians that this is and will continue to be a priority of our government.