Canada’s Homeless Women

A post at section15.ca reviews two new studies on homeless women in Canada, one surveying Toronto and the other, women in the far north.  Here are some bits:

There are an estimated 1,000 homeless women in the north, with 500 Yellowknife alone, 300 in Iqaluit – and a total of 2,000 if the women’s children are added in.

The extremely cold temperatures in the north make sleeping in the street a mortal risk. This results in a preponderance of “invisible” or “hidden” homelessness. These terms denote situations in which women stay with friends or relatives temporarily and/or stay with a man solely to obtain shelter. They may have a roof over their heads, but the have no home of their own.

In fact, invisible or hidden homelessness is one point on a continuum of homelessness outlined in the northern study …

[…]

Rarely is the public given the insight into the specifics of homeless women’s daily lives that these two studies provide. The Toronto study sums up these women’s daily existence with three words: difficult, stressful and dangerous – which is probably understating the case. One need only try to imagine what it would be like to be suffering from a blinding migraine, a bad cold, severe back pain or menstrual cramps – but have no bed of your own and no place to call home. For a person who’s always had those things, it’s almost unfathomable.

And then there is violence. Sistering’s research indicates that 20% of the women who contributed to the Toronto study had been sexually assaulted or raped in the last year alone (compared with 3% of women in the general population who reported having been sexually assaulted within a 12-month period in 2004, according to Statistics Canada).

The authors of the northern study state clearly that, with respect to the plight of homeless women, “Canada is not living up to the reputation or commitments to the United Nations economic and social rights.” Nor is it regarding the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

The post is a good source of information in itself, but also links you to these studies and lots of further information.  Read this

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