BY ALEX GREGORY
It’s still not enough. The ongoing issue of domestic violence cases and high-profile murders in Peel Region has led regional councillors to adopt a public awareness campaign aimed at educating residents about the issue. The resolution was made last week at Peel Region’s regular council meeting, with councillors from all three municipalities unanimously supporting the motion.
Domestic violence cases have continued to attract undue attention in the region, with more than 13,000 referrals from families dealing with the issue in 2019, along with 13 out of the 31 homicides reported last year, said one of Peel’s leading authorities on the issue. “I’ve never experienced these numbers of women being reported in our community… it just sends a huge impact across the region,” said Catholic Family Services of Peel chief executive officer Sharon Mayne Devine, who delegated to regional council regarding the need for a “safe centre” that protects families in the region.
During the regional budget deliberations held last month, Peel Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah reported that the highest number of calls the force receives are related to domestic violence. Additionally, statistics released by Interim Place reveal that the agency responded to more than 1,300 crisis calls last year alone. Devine, who was representing 20 other service agencies through her delegation, said that service providers can’t do the job alone, and called on regional council to take a proactive stance on the issue, and get the “community to own the position.
” People need to be urged to address the matter in their own neighbourhoods and throughout the region, so that they can act if they see a woman being abused. Peel can be “a safe place for families… where violence against women won’t be tolerated,” said Devine. The motion generated strong support and reactions from councillors, including Brampton city councillor Rowena Santos, who noted that the one-year anniversary of the death of Riya Rajkumar, who died on Feb. 14, 2019, weighed on her mind. “Unfortunately, we continue to see these deaths because of the domestic violence,” said Santos, who suggested that council push for more support from the province to tackle the issue. Caledon councillor Annette Groves also noted that, as a former executive director of a women’s shelter, she had seen firsthand the impact of domestic violence on women in the community. “These women feel like they’re responsible,” said Groves. “It’s not your fault, and you don’t deserve it.”