global context:

global context:

Women are working as commercial sex workers; working in sweatshop factories sewing garments, peeling shrimp, weaving carpets, picking cotton, mining minerals, harvesting rice, and working in households as domestic care workers. They are bonded by debt that is almost impossible to pay off and must do this menial, degrading, and debilitating labor for long hours with no rights or protections (U.S. Department of State, 2010). Assault and violence based on trafficking (the illegal trade in human beings that constitutes a modern form of slavery) of women and girls for forced labor and sex is widespread (Watts & Zimmerman, 2002; World Health Organization, 2009).


4.5 million of the estimated 21 million people in forced labor are victims of sexual exploitation, 98% of them are women and girls (United Nations, 2017). In 2012, one in two women killed worldwide was killed by their partner or family (Unnited Nations, 2017). In the 1994 Rwandan genocide, it is estimated that up to 500,000 women were raped during a 100-day period (Surf Survivors Fund, n.d.). In 1992 Croatian and Bosnian women were subjected to rape and gang rape by soldiers in rape/death camps (Allen, 1996).

While war rape is considered a crime against humanity and trafficking affects women in developing nations at higher rates than women in the United States or Canada, violent crimes and other forms of exploitation against women are not restricted to developing nations. Sexism occurs in U.S. and Canadian women’s lives in these ways:

One in four women in the United States has experienced domestic violence, and one in three women has been a victim of rape (Center for Disease Control, 2017). The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766. (HOPE, n.d.). A woman is beaten every 9 seconds in the United States (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2015). Less than 10% of sexual assaults in Canada are reported to the police (Statistics Canada, 2006b); despite the rate of self-reported sexual assaults remaining relatively stable, the percentage of offenses that were reported to the police has dropped from about 12% in 2009 to 5% in 2014 (Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2016). Fifty-one percent of Canadian women report having experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence; four out of five female undergraduates at Canadian universities have been victims of violence in a dating relationship; and 83% of women with disabilities will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime (Sexual Assault Centre of Hamilton Ontario, n.d.). In the United States, an estimated 10 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2015). On average a woman is killed by her intimate partner every 6 days in


Canada (BC Society of Transition Houses, 2016). On average 3 women are killed every day in the United States. (National Network to End Domestic Violence, 2012).

What these statistics reveal is not only that rape, sexual assault, and violence against women (perpetrated primarily by men) occurs at extraordinary rates in Canada and the United States, but that many of us are unaware of the severity and pervasiveness of this violence. In addition to direct experiences of gender violence, there are indirect ways that many of us support violence against women and girls. For example, Canada and the United States are primary consumers of clothing, accessories, and household goods produced by sweatshop labor.

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