Reasons why people don’t have status in Canada

Many people come into Canada with a temporary resident
permit. If they overstay their permit they become non-status. Some
people have been in Canada without status for 10, 20 or more
years. Some have been here since they were small children and are
completely unfamiliar with their country of origin to which they
are at risk of being deported. Many people make a refugee claim
which is rejected, but prefer to stay illegally rather than to
return to an uncertain future, or even death. Many women come to
Canada legally (sponsored by an employer, spouse or family
member), but then find themselves in an abusive relationship with
their sponsor. If they escape before receiving permanent resident
status they might become non-status.

Statistics on the number of non-status people in Canada

People who live without legal status are forced to live
underground and work under the table in order to avoid being
noticed by the authorities and consequently deported. For this
reason, it is impossible to provide an accurate statistic.
Estimates range anywhere from 20,000 to 200,000 individuals, but
many believe that the numbers are a lot higher.

Statistics on Violence Against Women in Canada

(**Please note that these statistics are only for women
with legal status in Canada. There are no specific statistics on
violence against non-status women, even though non-status women
are at particular risk of experiencing violence for some of the
reasons listed below.)

One half of Canadian women have experienced at least one
incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16 Almost
one-half (45%) of all Canadian women experienced violence by men
known to them 1 in 4 Canadian women have experienced physical or
sexual violence at the hands of a marital partner 63% of women who
had been assaulted by a current or past partner or spouse were
victimized on more than one occasion One-third of women who were
assaulted by a partner feared for their lives at some point during
the abusive relationship Women who are separated from their
spouses are at particularly high risk of intimate femicide
Twenty-five percent of women who entered shelters in 1995 had
injuries that required medical attention, and 3% required
hospitalization. (Bunge and Levett 1998, 19)Forty-two percent of
women with disabilities have been or are in abusive relationships.
(Disabled Women’s Network 1989) Eight in ten Aboriginal women in
Ontario reported having personally experienced violence. (Ontario
Native Women’s Association 1989, 7) Most statistics taken from the

Barriers faced by non-status women and children in

Why are non-status women at high risk of experiencing

Women without status, face the same forms of gender
based violence as all other women, but are at a higher risk
because of the vulnerable position they live in: They have very
limited access to information, counseling, and other social
services, if any. They cannot call the police in an emergency
without putting themselves at risk of deportation, as the police
have authority to arrest or detain someone on behalf of
Immigration. If her partner is charged with assault this could
lead to devastating consequences for her. They cannot easily
access medical services.

What needs to happen?

Regularization of all non-status people in Canada. No
asking about immigration status or reporting to Immigration Canada
by Police and other service providers. A ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
policy would make city services available to all city residents,
without discrimination on the basis of immigration status. Changes
to immigration law to protect immigrant women from abusive
sponsors and employers.

Campaigns in support of non-status people

The Status Now! Campaign in Defence of Non-Status
Immigrants is a group of agencies, trade unionists, grass-roots
groups, community organizations as well as immigrants, refugees
and allies who have come together to mount a national campaign in
defence of non-status immigrants. For more information, please
email logistics@statusnow.org. No One is Illegal (Toronto) is a
group of immigrants, refugees and allies who fight for the rights
of all migrants to live with dignity and respect. NOII works to
oppose racist immigration and border policies, as well as the
economic policies that create the conditions of poverty and war
that force migration. For more information, contact 416-597-5820,
nooneisillegal@riseup.net or visit their website at
http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org/. The Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
Campaign is being organized by a coalition of groups based in the
Greater Toronto Area. It was formally launched by No One Is
Illegal Toronto in March 2004. Email info@dadttoronto.org

If you are a woman in crisis or know someone who is
being abused, please contact the Assaulted Women’s Helpline at
1-866-863-0511 or 1-866-863-7868 (TTY)

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