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Ottawa police say using term 'femicide' recognizes power imbalance

The term femicide describes the murder of females when the reason for death is suspected to be because the person is a woman or a girl. 
2018-07-12 ottawa police headquarters MV6
File photo.

Since January, five Ottawa women have been victims of femicide. In each case, men are facing charges. 

This is what a Sept. 16 tweet from the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) said, and although the crimes are devesting, acting inspector Nicole St. John with OPS said using the term femicide is a sign of progress toward how society views gender-related crime. 

St. John told The Sam Laprade Show on Sept. 28 that the term describes the murder of females when the reason for death is suspected to be because the person is a woman or a girl. 

"It almost elevates it to a different level, where we're recognizing that power imbalance and that the focus is on violence against women," she explained.  

However, St. John notes that using the term is only one of many ways society and OPS can move forward in preventing the cycle of violence against women. 

The Violence Against Women Committee, comprised of community advocates, meets regularly. 

"They will ask those difficult questions…by meeting and having open communication with these groups…we are really trying to listen and make improvements to our responses," she said, adding that the committee also provides feedback on sexual assault investigation cases.

St. John said the police are also trying to inform people about the meaning of consent and let men know that there are places that can also help them. Another critical piece is encouraging victims to speak up and providing support when they do.  

Listen to the full interview with acting inspector Nicole St. John below: 

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