Elevate Difference

Remembering Women Murdered by Men: Memorials Across Canada

Every day, women are dying. We outnumber men nine to one as victims of violence, and it is affecting society socially and economically. A recent study by the government of Canada estimates the health-related cost of violence towards women costs the Canadian taxpayer $1.5 billion annually. If women are dying at such an alarming rate, why hasn’t our plight received more attention?

In the book Remembering Women Murdered by Men, The Cultural Memory Group attempts to provide a voice for the millions of victims of femicide. Over a period of five years they tour Canada, examining thirty monuments dedicated to brutalized women. Throughout we find common themes of resistance and bureaucratic foot-dragging; almost every memorial examined experiences some form of backlash. The resistance is patronizing, unwarranted, and found at all levels. Media takes issue with language that demonizes men, War veterans categorize femicide as an issue for “special interest groups,” and universities, keen to acknowledge that women are dying, are reluctant to recognize that women are dying at the hands of men.

The book illustrates the hard work and dedication involved in each monument. Despite public qualms, each memorial was brought into existence though a cooperation of grassroots political groups, local artisans, community volunteers and government officials. They are beautiful works of art that serve as a powerful reminder of gender inequalities. While the monuments turn public spaces into private places for reflection, the book acknowledges that monuments alone do not always inspire activism. Much work is needed in the form of public awareness and education.

If you are interested in women’s issues, read this book. It is informative and well written. While it does, at times, lose itself in academic diatribes, the book is on the whole an entertaining read. Pick it up, take a look, and then share it with a friend. In order to eliminate violence against women, we must first acknowledge it. Reading a book like this is a step in the right direction.

Written by: Cheryl Santa Maria, January 26th 2007