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Status of Women minister refuses to call sex-selective abortion gender-based violence

The Minister responsible for the Status of Women has refused to outright condemn sex-selective abortion as “gender-based violence.” The issue came up during a Status of Women Committee meeting in Ottawa – a meeting that was considering gender-based violence.

Lethbridge MP Rachael Harder asked Minister Maryam Monsef specifically whether she would make a connection between sex-selective abortion and gender-based violence. In an exchange that’s gone viral on social media (you can watch it here), Monsef responded that “violence comes at a spectrum; it can be physical, it can be psychological, it can be emotional, and it can be cyber.” When Harder pressed the question by asking whether the practice was “discriminating against girls”, Monsef shifted the discussion, saying “I think what you would like to speak to me about is abortion, and I believe that women have a fundamental right to be able to control their reproductive (systems).”

Harder tried again, asking whether the minister believed “that sex-selective abortion, as identified by the Canadian Medical Association (in a report) in 2012, (constitutes) gender-based violence. Yes or no?” Monsef responded that “any sort of gender-based violence is wrong”, and that women are “vulnerable to all sorts of violence.” But she refused to answer the question directly.

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