Violence against and the Harassment of Women in Canadian Public Housing: An Exploratory Study


  • *We thank Desmond Ellis, Alberto Godenzi, Antoinette Hetzler, Claire Renzetti, Aysan Sev'er, David Wiesenthal, and all those who participated in the 1999 Violations Conference sponsored by the University of Toronto and the 1998 LaMarsh Research Centre on Violence and Conflict Resolution Graduate Student Symposium for their comments and criticisms on previous drafts of this paper. We also thank all of the women who participated in this study. Further, we thank the members of our research team: Karen Douglas, Meagan Gough, Susan Richter, Genevieve Sambourin, Willow Scobie and Andreas Tomaszewski. The manuscript of this article was submitted in June 1999 and accepted in July 1999.


Aucune étude nord-américaine n'a examiné de façon systé'matique l'importance des divers types degressions sexuelles, notamment le harcèlement sexuel et racial, que subissent les femmes dans les logements sociaux. Les logements sociaux et les rues des quartiers pauvres du centre-ville sont les endroits typiques où se jouent les relations de force entre les sexes et où l'influence de la drogue a exacerbé la violence exercée contre les femmes. À l'aide de données provenant du Quality of Neighbourhood Life Survey, dans lequel sont interrogés des ménages habitant dans six logements sociaux situés dans un centre urbain de Test de l'Ontario, cet article permet de combler une lacune importante dans la recherche. On y étudie les données exploratoires sur l'incidence de la violence conju-gale et de la violence extérieure ainsi que trois types de harcèlement vécus par des femmes vivant dans des logements sociaux.

No North American study has systematically examined the extent of various types of woman abuse in public housing, including sexual and racial harassment. Public housing communities and inner-city ghetto streets are key arenas where gendered power relations are played out, and where the influx of drugs has exacerbated the degradation and abuse of women. Using data from the Quality of Neighbourhood Life Survey, administered to households in six public housing projects in an urban centre in Eastern Ontario, this paper helps fill a major research gap. Exploratory data on the incidence of intimate violence, stranger violence, and three types of harassment experienced by women in these dwellings are discussed.

As men on the street lose their former authoritarian power in the household, they lash out against the women and children they can no longer control. Men are not accepting the new rights and roles that women are obtaining; instead, they are desperately attempting to reassert their grandfathers' lost autocratic control over their households and over public space.