Preventing violence against women and girls


Alberta has some of the highest rates of violence in Canada. These include:

  • intimate partner violence
  • sexual violence
  • missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

Often, people think of violence as physical, like hitting, slapping, shoving or cutting. Violence can take different forms and it happens without consent:

Types of violence against women

Domestic violence

It is any use of physical or sexual force, actual or threatened, in an intimate relationship. It can happen many times or just once, and the abuse happens through the use of assault and controlling behaviour.

The abuse may include one or more of the following:

  • physical, emotional, psychological or sexual abuse
  • criminal harassment (i.e. stalking)
  • threats to harm children, other family members, pets and property
Intimate partner violence
Happens between people who are or were dating, common-law or married. They could also have had a child together without being in a relationship.
Family violence
Happens between parents and children, siblings, or extended family members.

Sexual assault

It is a legal term used in Canada to explain any form of sexual contact without consent. It can include forced or unwanted kissing, touching, vaginal penetration, anal penetration or oral sex. It is a crime.

Sexual exploitation

This happens when a person in a position of trust or authority uses that power to start or attempt sexual activity with another person. It can be through direct or indirect touching, violence, coercion or the use of threats.

Examples of sexual exploitation include sex work and pornography.

Sexual exploitation is a crime when the exploited person is:

  • younger than 18 years of age or
  • older than 18 years of age, has a disability, and the exploitation happens without consent

Sexual harassment

Unwanted or uninvited sexual remarks, gestures, sounds and actions that make a person feel unsafe, degraded or uncomfortable, even if the harasser claims to have been only joking.

Sexual harassment creates a frightening or hostile school or work environment. Women and girls are usually targets of harassment.

Some examples are:

  • rude jokes, sexual remarks, spreading rumours
  • sexual put-downs
  • cat calls, rating appearance, whistling
  • insults about  sexual  orientation
  • bragging about sexual relations
  • any forced sexual contact (touching, patting, grabbing, kissing)

Status of Women initiatives

Initiatives for 2016

Violence can lead to long-term harm. Women and girls who experience violence may find themselves unable to keep up relationships, work or good health. They may experience poverty or homelessness.

Status of Women is working to keep more women and girls safe while working to undo the problems that underline the violence. These plans are either under way or planned for 2016:

  • Work with other ministries to put in place the Family Violence Framework
  • Be part of the process of the national inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
  • Help to develop a proposal with the City of Edmonton for the United Nations Safe Cities Initiative

Supports for women and girls experiencing violence

The Government of Alberta has made progress on getting supports for those women and girls who experience violence. Funds go to these initiatives:

  • Sexual assault centres
    • $4 million each year supports 11 sexual assault centres and the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services.
  • Family violence prevention
    • About $95 million each year helps to address family violence. $24 million helps to address sexual violence and abuse.
  • Women’s emergency and second-stage shelters
    • $15 million new funding in 2015 increases supports for women and children affected by family violence to more than $49 million each year.
  • Operational funding
    • Alberta funds 30 women’s emergency shelters and gives program funding to 11 second-stage shelters. Operational funding also increased shelter staff salaries.
  • Shelter Enhancement Fund (2014)
    • This money funded urgent facility fire, health and safety maintenance projects in women’s emergency.
  • Family Violence Hurts Everyone: A Framework to End Family Violence in Alberta (0.8 MB)

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