Investigate missing women: UN

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OTTAWA -- The United Nations is calling on the Harper government to investigate why hundreds of deaths and disappearances of aboriginal women remain unsolved.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/11/2008 (5054 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — The United Nations is calling on the Harper government to investigate why hundreds of deaths and disappearances of aboriginal women remain unsolved.

It’s asking Ottawa to report back in a year on the status of more than 500 cases that “have neither been fully investigated nor attracted priority attention, with the perpetrators remaining unpunished.”

The UN committee on the elimination of discrimination against women wants Canada to “urgently carry out thorough investigations” to trace how and why the justice system failed.

A federally funded $5-million study by the Native Women’s Association of Canada concludes that 510 aboriginal girls and women have vanished or been murdered since 1980. It calls for an emergency strategy.

Federal and provincial justice ministers said last September that they’re improving how missing-person cases are handled, especially those involving native women.

Aboriginal activist Sharon McIvor says aboriginal girls and women from all walks of life are still being targeted, their disappearances treated with muted reaction.

She cited the unsolved case of Daleen Kay Bosse, who vanished after a night out with friends in Saskatoon on May 18, 2004. There was no hint the aspiring teacher and photographer, just 26 years old, would abandon her life.

Her heart-broken mother, Pauline Muskego, spoke publicly a year later about the comparative lack of media interest: “My daughter’s face has never been shown nationally,” she said.

McIvor says the public mistakenly thinks such victims are living high-risk lifestyles.

“And that’s not true. Her risk is she’s an aboriginal woman.”

No comment from federal officials was immediately available.

Leilani Farha, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action, says government efforts to date are “minimal.”

“There needs to be a proper inquiry into what’s happened to these women and what the deficiencies in the law-enforcement system were and continue to be.

“I think it’s plain that the government of Canada is failing aboriginal women in this country.”

The UN committee also wants Ottawa to set minimum standards for welfare to better protect the most vulnerable citizens across Canada. And it raises alarms about lack of shelters for battered women, and Conservative government cuts that wiped out the Court Challenges Program — funding that helped advance minority rights.

— The Canadian Press

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