This Glossary provides a central place to find the meaning of key terms in Gender-Based Violence (GBV) work and to access resources for further learning. It will grow and change as the GBV field does. If you find a term should be added or revised, please contact us at gbvln@uwo.ca

You can view the terms associated with a letter by selecting the letter below. Crossed out letters do not have any terms.


Failure To Protect

“Failure to protect is a form of child neglect. It implies that the neglecting parent has failed to protect a child when it was possible to do so. While this may sometimes be the case, the term is very controversial when applied to parents who are also victims themselves, such as in the case of victimized women. As viewed by advocates of domestic violence, this term is a key charge by which child protective services find mothers who are victims of domestic violence neglectful under state law, by failing to protect or endangering their children through exposure to domestic violence against them. The consequence of such a finding can lead to children being removed from the home and placed in foster care.” [1]


[1] Jerry Silverman, G. (2008). Failure to protect. In C. M. Renzetti & J. L. Edleson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of interpersonal violence (Vol. 1, pp. 233-234). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: 10.4135/9781412963923.n157


“The cultural, institutional and individual set of practices and beliefs that assign different values to people according to their religion or creed, or their lack of religion or creed, thereby resulting in differential treatment on the basis of faith.” [1]


[1] Canadian Race Relations Foundation. (n.d.). CRRF Glossary of Terms. Retrieved from https://www.crrf-fcrr.ca/en/resources/glossary-a-terms-en-gb-1

Family Violence

“Family violence is considered to be any form of abuse, mistreatment or neglect that a child or adult experiences from a family member, or from someone with whom they have an intimate relationship.” [1] “Family violence is a gender-based crime as most victims are women and girls. One out of four violent crimes in Canada reported to police involves family violence.” [2]

“The different terms used for family violence can have slightly different meanings depending on where and how they are used, such as in a courtroom or a hospital. For example: 

  • Domestic violence can sometimes mean family violence and sometimes it means intimate partner violence. 
  • Intimate partner violence refers to physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse and can also be called dating violence between couples who are not married.
  • The terms violence against women and gender-based violence are also used. 
  • Child abuse is sometimes called child maltreatment or neglect, and elder abuse is sometimes referred to as neglect.” [3]

Learn More:


[1] Department of Justice. (2017, January). Family violence. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/fv-vf/index.html

[2] Luke's Place. (2015, September). Family violence is relevant in family law processes. Retrieved from https://lukesplace.ca/family-violence-is-relevant-in-family-law-processes/

[3] Public Health Agency of Canada. (2014, August). What is family violence?. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/stop-family-violence/family-violence.html

Female Genital Mutilation

“Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” [1] “Infections incurred as the result of unhygienic operations frequently result in loss of life, which is considered an acceptable outcome.” [2]

“The World Health Organization has classified FGM into four types:

Type I – Excision of the prepuce, with or without excision of part or all of the clitoris.

Type II – Excision of the clitoris with partial or total excision of the labia minora.

Type III – Excision of part or all of the external genitalia and stitching/narrowing of the vaginal opening (infibulation).

Type IV – Unclassified which includes pricking, piercing or incising of the clitoris and/or labia; stretching of the clitoris and/or labia; cauterization by burning of the clitoris and surrounding tissue.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] World Health Organization. (n.d.). Types of female genital mutilation

[2] Etherington, N. & Baker, L. (2015).  Forms of femicide. Learning Network Brief 29. London, Ontario: Learning Network, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children. Retrieved from http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/our-work/briefs/brief-29.html

Female Infanticide

Female infanticide is “the intentional killing of female infants or fetuses because they are female.” [1] The practice is shaped by a host of cultural and economic factors, such as norms which lead to a preference of sons over daughters.

“The son preference over daughter has been rooted in various social norms of most patrilineal societies such as inheritance passing on to male offspring, male offspring providing economic support and security in old age and performing death rites.” [2]

Learn More:



[1] Baker, L., Etherington, N., Pietsch, N., & Straatman, A. (2015). Femicide. Learning Network Issue 14. London, ON: Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children. Retrieved from http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/our-work/issuebased_newsletters/issue-14/index.html

[2] Asian Centre for Human Rights. (2016, June). Female infanticide worldwide: The case for action by the UN Human Rights Council. 


"Femicide is the intentional killing of women and girls because they are women and girls." [1]

There are different forms of femicide including:

  • Intimate Femicide:The killing of women and girls by current or former partners or family members.
  • Non-Intimate Femicide:The killing of women and girls by someone without an intimate relationship with them (e.g. serial killings motivated by misogyny).
  • Murder in the Name of ‘Honor’:The killing of women and girls because their lived experience (e.g. engaging in premarital sex) is judged as a violation of gender and/or family expectations.
  • Female Infanticide and Gender-Based Sex-Selective Foeticide:The killing of female infants or fetuses because they are female.
  • Genital Mutilation Related Femicide:The killing of women and girls resulting from complications associated with female genital mutilation.
  • Dowry-Related Femicide:The killing of a woman or girl by the groom’s family because the dowry (e.g. money, property) provided by her family is judged as inadequate.
  • Organized Crime Related Femicide:The killing of women and girls associated with gangs, drugs, human trafficking, and/or gun proliferation. [2]

Learn More:


[1] Baker, L., Etherington, N., Pietsch, N., & Straatman, A. (2015). Femicide. Learning Network Issue 14. London, ON: Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children. Retrieved from http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/our-work/issuebased_newsletters/issue-14/index.html  

[2] Etherington, N. & Baker, L. (2015). Forms of Femicide. Learning Network Brief 29. London, ON: Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children. Retrieved from http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/our-work/briefs/brief-29.html


Feminism has a rich and complicated history, and it can entail different meanings and applications for many people.  Nevertheless, the influential feminist bell hooks offers the following “simplified,” “open-ended” way of thinking about this term:

“Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression... I liked this definition because it did not imply that men were the enemy. By naming sexism as the problem it went directly to the heart of the matter. Practically, it is a definition which implies that all sexist thinking and action is the problem, whether those who perpetuate it are female or male, child or adult. It is also broad enough to include an understanding of systemic institutionalized sexism. As a definition it is open-ended. To understand feminism it implies one has to necessarily understand sexism.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] hooks, bell. (2000). Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics. Cambridge, MA: South End Press.


Femme is “an identity that encapsulates femininity that is dislocated from, and not necessitating, a female body/identity, as well as a femininity that is embodied by those whose femininity is deemed culturally unsanctioned.” [1]


[1] Blair, K. L., & Hoskin, R. A. (2015). “Experiences of femme identity: Coming out, invisibility and femmephobia.” Psychology & Sexuality, 6(3): 229–244, p. 232.


Filicide is “the killing of children by parents.” [1] “Research has demonstrated that when fathers kill their children it is often in the context of a history of domestic violence and retaliation against their female partner for leaving or attempting to leave the relationship.” [1]


[1] Dawson, M., Sutton, D., Carrigan, M., Grand’Maison, V., Bader, D., Zecha, A., & Boyd, C. (2019). #CallItFemicide:  Understanding gender-related killings of women and girls in Canada 2019. Retrieved from https://femicideincanada.ca/callitfemicide2019.pdf

First Nations

“First Nation is a term used to identify Indigenous peoples of Canada who are neither Métis nor Inuit. This term came into common usage in the 1970s to replace the term “Indian” and “Indian band” which many find offensive. First Nation is used instead of “Indian” when referring to an individual. First Nations people includes both status and non-status Indians and is used to refer to a single band or the plural First Nations for many bands. The term ‘First Nation Community’ is a respectful alternative phrase; however, First Nation communities in Ontario have expressed publicly and politically that they prefer Indigenous Peoples.” [1]

Learn More:


[1] Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. (2016, July 20). Indigenous Peoples terminology guidelines for usage. Retrieved from https://www.ictinc.ca/blog/indigenous-peoples-terminology-guidelines-for-usage

Forced Marriage

“Forced marriage is a marriage in which one and/or both parties have not personally expressed their full and free consent to the union. A child marriage is considered to be a form of forced marriage, given that one and/or both parties have not expressed full, free and informed consent.” [1]


[1] United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. (n.d.)Child and forced marriage, including in humanitarian settings. Retrieved from https://www.ohchr.org/en/issues/women/wrgs/pages/childmarriage.aspx