Healing Gaia

Christmas 2016 Wish List

onsider for one moment how differently things could have played out for Nuseiba Hasan and Elana Fric-Shamji, and her three children, if just one person had spoken up in time.

By Doreen Nicoll
Published December 24, 2016

Late October news accounts that 26 year-old Nuseiba Hasan had been reported missing by a family member in February 2016 raised more than a few eye brows and questions. The missing woman was last seen alive at her family’s Flamborough property.

Hamilton police continue to investigate her disappearance and have been treating it as a homicide. What made this case so unusual is the fact that Hasan had been missing for a decade.

So, why report Hasan missing now? Safety. Someone who cared deeply for Hasan felt they were finally in a safe position to report Hasan’s disappearance.

Then, in December there was the shocking femicide of Dr. Elana Fric-Shamji. In 2005, while living in Ottawa, Fric-Shamji’s husband was charged with assault and two counts of uttering threats after a reported domestic dispute. Fric-Shamji and her husband eventually entered into a peace bond which indicates the charges were withdrawn.

The couple had been living and working in Toronto since 2012. It’s reported that Fric-Shamji was in the process of divorcing her husband, but that they still lived together with their three children.

Fric-Shamji was reported missing by her mother not by her husband. She was found by police on December 1st in a suitcase by the West Humber River. She had been strangled.

What do these two femicides have in common? They were preventable.

It’s a sad truth, but it is the truth none-the-less. And, so my gift to you this holiday season is the ability to save a woman’s life in 2017.

Here are a few important bits that you should know:

The Ontario domestic Violence Death Review Committee (DVDRC) was established 12 years ago, “To assist the Office of the Chief Coroner in the investigation and review of deaths of persons that occur as a result of domestic violence, and to make recommendations to help prevent such deaths in similar circumstances.”

Over the years, the committee has reviewed 199 cases involving 290 deaths. During that time the DVDRC has firmly established that intimate partner femicides are both predictable and preventable with early intervention.

The DVDRC has created a list of 39 common risk factors involved in cases of lethality it has reviewed. These ten factors occurred most often and when several occur together are a solid indication of impending lethality:

Following the 2014 review of cases, 24 recommendations were generated. The remarkable change to the recommendations was that it specifically targeted government ministries, agencies and services. In this uncharacteristic move, the DVDRC acknowledged that real change is needed and must come through modifications to government policy and services in order to prevent domestic violence from becoming lethal for women and their children.

One case in point, the Ministry of the Attorney General was instructed that:

Family courts should develop a triage function for an initial assessment of cases to determine the degree of urgency required to hear the matter; the need for additional resources and community referrals to assure safety planning; and appropriate risk management interventions to reduce domestic violence and child abuse.

Recommendations were directed to the following ministries:

Recommendations were also directed at the following service providers:

The DVDRC also recommended a more widespread use of the Neighbours, Friends, and Families Campaign designed to raise awareness and inform professionals, businesses, and the general public about domestic violence by providing practical guidelines for:

As well as information for assessing the situation for risk of lethality.

So, what can you do with the gift that I have just given to you? Share it. Share with as many people as you possibly can by sending it with Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa cards; posting it on the lunch room bulletin board; asking your local hipster coffee shop to put it on their community information board.

Be creative! But, get the message out there that intimate partner femicides are preventable and that each of us has an obligation to follow up with the proper people, services, or authorities once we are aware that a woman is in danger of intimate partner violence and especially when she is at risk of lethality.

In most cases of lethality signs of abuse and violence abound. Family, friends, and even acquaintances are aware on some level of the violence that is taking place. It is not an invasion of privacy it is your responsibility to protect every woman’s human rights.

Consider for one moment how differently things could have played out for Nuseiba Hasan and Elana Fric-Shamji, and her three children, if just one person had spoken up in time.

This article was first published on rabble.ca.

Doreen Nicoll is a feminist and a member of several community organizations working diligently to end poverty, hunger and gendered violence.

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By AP (registered) | Posted December 30, 2016 at 11:21:26

Doreen, without fail I am grateful for your persistence and thoughtful approach bringing violence against women and gender-based violence to light. Inserting the often unspeakable discussion into our consciousness again and again (and again and again) is an important step among the big and little actions you call for from all of us to end it. Thank you for your leadership and bravery.

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