Most men are not abusive, but we need to get all young boys and men involved if we're going to be successful in eliminating woman abuse.
By Doreen Nicoll
Published October 28, 2014
Saturday, November 1 is the start of Woman Abuse Awareness Month. I like to think of it as a chance to open a dialogue that will prevent, perhaps even eradicate, gendered violence in our communities.
This month-long campaign helps us focus on the root cause of woman abuse: namely, gender inequality. This inequality takes many forms including: street harassment; physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, financial, spiritual, social abuse; criminal harassment and stalking; and victim blaming.
It's perpetuated throughout our society thanks to a sense of entitlement that has been indoctrinated into some of our young boys and men. This means that women are viewed as less than equal and can lead to men mistakenly believing that they have the right to exert power and control over the women in their lives.
Here are a few facts to help you get the discussion underway:
67 percent of all Canadians have known a woman who has experienced physical or sexual abuse. (Angus Ried Omnibus Survey, Canadian Women's Foundation, 2012)
66 percent of female victims of sexual assault are under 24 years of age, 11 percent are under 11 years of age. (Source PDF pg. 17)
60 percent of women with disabilities experience some form of violence. (Source)
50 percent of all Canadian women experience one incident of physical or sexual abuse in their lives. (Source This document is from 1993, but it was the last comprehensive Canadian survey of its kind.)
In Canada, every six days a woman is killed by her intimate partner. (Source)
Honour violence and killings differ drastically from domestic violence because it's members of the family of origin that perpetrate the violence not an intimate partner. (Source)
Every year 362,000 Canadian children witness or experience family violence. This exposure in itself is a form of child abuse and research has shown that it is as harmful to a child's development as experiencing the abuse first hand. (Source)
To end gendered violence and femicide, we must continue to be a caring and compassionate society while directing our efforts toward establishing gender equity as the norm.
This includes creating a living wage; affordable child care; more second stage housing for women and their children to use when they leave the safety of a shelter; additional affordable housing in each community; access to micro loans to assist women with first and last month's rent, deposits for utilities, and some basic furnishings.
Considering that each femicide costs society over a million dollars when you include lost time at work, hospital visits, counselling, police involvement, court costs, funeral costs, coroner's inquests, then my modest list is very affordable - not to mention humane.
For the past five years, the Shine the Light campaign has embraced the colour purple as a symbol of courage, survival and honour.
During November, decorate the outside of your home, office, store with purple lights. When people ask what you're doing, tell them you're shining the light on gendered violence. Then engage that person in a meaningful discussion about how they can play a role in keeping women and children safe from abuse.
On Tuesday, November 25, show solidarity by wrapping yourself in a snuggly purple scarf that can be purchased for $15 at local women's shelters as part of the Wrapped in Courage campaign.
Most men are not abusive, but we need to get all young boys and men involved as part of the solution if we're going to be successful. Engage young boys and men in meaningful discussions focused on gendered violence.
Encourage them to wear purple and to participate in events throughout the month. Visit the White Ribbon website for information, ideas and events.
The official launch of Woman Abuse Awareness month in Halton takes place Thursday, November 6 at 10 am. at 1151 Bronte Rd., Oakville in the Rotunda.
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