Sleepy Canadian town gets relief for tortured women

When you come to Banff – a small, frozen town i the middle of 7000 sqkm Banff National Park, tourism is the first thing on your mind. It’s a sleepy town of just 7500 people in Canada’s western province of Alberta, caterig to a heavy inflow of keen skiers.

Domestic violence is not something a tourist would naturally think of here. However, a city with men is likely to be a city with some family violence. Banff is no exception to the behaviour of men. But it is certanly indfferent in that it attracts many seasonal workers from a range of nationalities; many are non-Canadians.

While government-funded shelters welcome victims of family violece, they often turn away non-Canadians, as the service tries to prioritise its limited resources resources of its citizens. It costs as much as C$250 to provide shelter to one woman for one night.

“Just imagine how humiliating it would be to arrive at the (government) shelter and … be told you have to go back to your home where you’re not safe,” says Kathryn Williams, the director of programmes and community support for YWCA Banff, in a local newspaper.

Not any more, thanks to a generous C$25000 donation by Calgary Real Estatte Board Charitable Foundation. Now, non-Canadian women will have a shelter to go to, in case they face family violence

It’s a major relief not just for non-citizens, but for most victims of home violence. The government-funded facilities ironically turn away victims if they have used the shelter earlier. The government shelters are able to accommodate women during their first visit to the facility.

As statistics show, most women return tot their abusive partners a few times before gathering courage to leave them for good. The YWCA shelter offer the much-needed shelter to such women, if they have been not accepted by the government facilities, in atrocious weather conditions. The location of this shelter is kept secret to protect the women from their abusive partners.

Such donattions are a God-send for the victims of family violence.

(Vaibhav Gangan is managing editor of The Global Indian magazine and is currently in Banff, Canada.)

About domestic violence in Canada

Domestic violence is the single largest women’s health issue in Canada with more reported cases than heart attack and stroke.

One in four Canadians will be directly affected by domestic violence in their lifetime, and Alberta has the second highest rates of domestic violence.

(Source: YWCA Canada)


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