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Coalition urges parties to support female refugees

A women's advocacy coalition group held a rally and discussion panel Thursday urging federal party leaders to make violence against women an issue in the upcoming election.

The group "No one is illegal" is rallying in support of a woman who is in Canada illegally but wants to be accepted into the country as a refugee. The woman is afraid to return to her ex-husband in Mexico, the group says.

Meanwhile, a women's coalition group spoke to reporters earlier in the day about asking federal parties to speak out on how they would use Canada's immigration system to help protect women.

"The state, we feel, has a responsibility for women's human rights," said Shanaaz Gokool with Amnesty International. "They must respect, protect and fulfill. The state has a responsibility, whether abuses are committed by the state or non-state actors."

They say they've heard from the NDP and Green parties but have yet to hear from the Conservatives or the Liberals.

"Canada needs to not only make commitments internationally, we need to honour them here at home," said Ann Dector, with the YWCA. "We're here today to say that more is required. Women are being deported to unsafe situations without adequate hearings or sufficient recourse to legal counsel and other support."