Immigration Changes Puts Women at Risk
Ask just about any woman in this country if she or a woman she knows has experienced violence, and the answer will be “yes.” And yet, for the most part, the policies and public discourse of this country imply violence against women in Canada is no big deal. But violence against women is a big deal, traumatizing thousands of women in this country and profoundly impacting their lives. Every six days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner, and every day more than 3,000 women are living in emergency shelters to escape domestic violence. Twelve per cent of all violent crime in Canada or 40,000 arrests result from domestic violence each year, although only 22 per cent of all domestic violence incidents are reported to the police. Such is the current state of domestic violence against women in Canada.
If the Canadian government were to pass a law today requiring all Canadians with a spouse to stay in that relationship for two years before they would be eligible to, say, file for separation or divorce, many Canadians would be outraged. Women’s rights advocates would decry such a draconian measure as it would effectively trap women in abusive relationships. Yet this is precisely what the government has chosen to do, albeit to a smaller yet extremely vulnerable group.
As of Oct. 25, 2012, a new regulation imposes a two-year condition on all permanent residents who come to Canada as a sponsored spouse. The regulation applies to all sponsored spouses who at the time of the sponsorship application have resided for two years or less with their sponsors, and do not have any children in common. Once they arrive in Canada, the sponsored spouse must continue to cohabit with her sponsor in a conjugal relationship for at least two years, or risk losing her permanent resident status and ultimately be deported.