A Canadian government minister has suggested that as many as 4,000 indigenous women have gone missing or been murdered over the past three decades.
Patricia Hajdu, minister for the status of women, said research from the Native Women’s Association of Canada put the figure much higher than the 1,200 mentioned in a 2014 report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
Earlier, the indigenous affairs minister, Carolyn Bennett, said indigenous communities told ministers in the run-up to an inquiry about the missing women that the number was “much higher than 1,200”.
Bennett said the RCMP “did their very best” in trying to come up with an accurate number but the testimony she heard put that figure in serious doubt.
“I don’t have the data, but I know the problem is not about us fighting about the numbers. The problem is making sure that these families that lost a loved one, these survivors that are still living, that their stories lead us to the kind of concrete actions that will actually put an end to their vulnerability and what has been going on,” she said.
Bennett said many families of missing or murdered indigenous women wanted police to dust off cold cases, or launch investigations into the fate of the missing.
Hadju said a lack of hard data made it almost impossible to reach an accurate figure but 4,000 could be correct because of a history of police underreporting murders or failing to investigate suspicious deaths.
“When you actually start to add in, you know, disputed cases, for example, people that have claimed it’s a suicide or death due to exposure, but in fact there’s symptoms or signs that maybe it wasn’t, then of course the numbers jump,” she said.
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SOURCE: The Guardian