Call 911 if you are in immediate danger.

Overview

Gender-based violence is violence that is committed against someone because of their gender identity, gender expression or perceived gender.

Ending gender-based violence requires the collective effort of individuals, communities and government. For example, promoting the importance and understanding of consent is a key aspect of preventing gender-based violence.

Consent should be informed, voluntary and enthusiastic, and it can be withdrawn at any time.

Both globally and locally, gender-based violence continues to be devastating and pervasive. More than 11 million people in Canada have experienced intimate partner violence at least once. In Alberta, 2 in 3 females and 1 in 3 males have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime.

We also know that some Albertans have an even greater risk of experiencing gender-based violence, including, but not limited to:

  • women and girls aged 15 to 24
  • Indigenous women and girls
  • black and racialized women and girls
  • immigrant and refugee women and girls
  • persons with disabilities
  • people who identify as 2SLGBTQQIA+
  • women and girls living in Northern, rural and remote communities

Types of gender-based violence

Gender-based violence can be both physical and non-physical and can include a range of behaviours, including those that are:

  • not necessarily criminal – coercion, threats, unwanted sexual attention while in public, economic and coercive control, online harassment
  • criminal acts – threats, harassment, physical and sexual assault

Family violence

It is any use of physical or sexual force, actual or threatened, within a relationship. It can happen many times or just once, and the abuse happens through the use of assault or controlling behaviour.

It includes intimate partner violence, which happens between people who are or were previously dating, common-law or married. They could also have had a child together without being in a relationship.

Sexual violence

It is an act committed against someone's personal and sexual boundaries without that person’s freely given consent. It can be physical or non-contact, affects all ages and genders, and the person committing the act may be known or a stranger. It can include sexual assault, harassment and exploitation – and is against both civil and criminal law.

Sexual exploitation

It happens when a person in a position of trust or authority uses that power to start or attempt sexual activity with another person.

It can be through direct or indirect and may include touching, violence, coercion or the use of threats.

Human trafficking

This is a serious crime that exploits people of all ages, ethnicities and genders.

It is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, holding, concealing, harbouring or receipt of a person to take advantage of or exploit. Examples of this include:

  • any form of sexual exploitation
  • forced labour or services (includes slavery or practices similar to slavery)
  • the removal of a human organ or tissue

To find out more, see:

Violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2-spirited people

Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people continue to experience disproportionate rates of violence.

  • 63% of Indigenous women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime – compared to 45% of non-Indigenous women.
  • 43% of Indigenous women have been sexually assaulted at least once since age 15 – compared to 30% of non-Indigenous women.
  • The homicide rate is over 5 times higher (PDF, 1.9 MB) for Indigenous women as compared to non-Indigenous women.
  • Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people are 12 times more likely to be missing or murdered (PDF, 21 MB) than non-Indigenous women.

Read more about Increasing safety for Indigenous women and girls.

Female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C)

It includes all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia – or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

It is sometimes called ‘female circumcision.'

It is a crime in Canada:

  • The Criminal Code of Canada cites FGM/C as a form of aggravated assault (Section 268).
  • This offense carries a maximum imprisonment term of 14 years.
  • Anyone involved in carrying out FGM/C can be charged, including parents who willingly participate in or plan for the practice.

Getting men involved

Engaging men and boys in violence prevention

Men and boys are key to preventing and ending gender-based violence. There are several ways men and boys can contribute to the prevention of violence:

  • believe someone when they come forward with claims of sexual violence
  • show leadership by discussing gender-based violence, gender norms, and healthy relationships with family, friends, neighbours and coworkers
  • integrate gender-based violence awareness in sports coaching and youth mentoring activities
  • speak out against violence at public events
  • volunteer, donate or fundraise for organizations that work to prevent gender-based violence and support survivors
  • participate in community-based awareness activities and initiatives
  • join associations that address gender-based violence while promoting gender equality
  • raise awareness in your workplace by hosting workshops or participating in training
  • refuse to join degrading conversations that keep sexism and misogyny alive – and voice your disapproval

It is also important that men and boys:

  • are supported in developing healthy masculinities, becoming allies and building healthy relationships
  • have access to mental health supports and counselling

Programs

Examples of programs that engage men and boys to promote respectful relationships, positive gender roles and equality include:

Activism

16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence

16 Days of Activism is an international event that is designated and led by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). It happens each year from November 25 to December 10.

The Alberta government and its community partners lead awareness activities and events each year to:

  • recognize the 16 Days of Activism
  • call for the prevention and elimination of gender-based violence

There are 4 gender-based violence awareness campaigns that align with and support the 16 Days of Activism:

Since 2015, the minister who is responsible for the status of women has led the 16 Days of Activism in Alberta.

Campaign resources

Support list

Women and gender equality Canada

Get help

Find out about helplines, victim services, shelters and other supports at Sexual violence – Get help.

Get help in other languages

See the ‘Help in other languages’ section on the Sexual violence – Get help page.