Healing Gaia

Who Will You Help?

Changing our culture of patriarchy and misogyny will require education paired with new laws and more stringent enforcement of existing policies.

By Doreen Nicoll
Published May 29, 2015

Sexism, misogyny, patriarchy, entitlement, inherent right, colonialism, and rape culture. This is a very long list of ingrained prejudices that must be acknowledged, challenged and replaced with respectful relationships and equitable partnerships in our homes, schools, workplaces, and public spaces.

This is going to take a major change of mindset for us as a society. Certain segments of the population will be slow to change while others will dig their heels in and simply refuse.

So, while education is the preferred means of changing attitudes and practices, in reality it will have to be paired with new laws and more stringent enforcement of existing laws and policies.

Thank goodness we're not starting from scratch and have organizations, policies, procedures, laws, and educational programs to draw from and build upon.

Currently, there are 42 sexual assault centres in Ontario. 30 offer services in English while 12 serve French-speaking communities. They fall under the care of the Ministry of the Attorney General, from whom they receive core funding.

Counselling, crisis lines and public education are the core services offered by sexual assault centres. Money for additional projects is raised through grants, community fundraising and other precarious forms of increasing income.

Services include 24-hour crisis counselling over the phone; accompaniment to the hospital, court and/or police station; advocacy and referrals; crisis intervention; individual or group counselling and self-help groups; public education on sexual violence; presentations and workshops for the public and professionals.

They also engage in social activism including Sexual Assault Prevention Month in May, Take Back The Night in September, Women Abuse Prevention Month in November, and December 6th vigils to remember the victims of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre.

Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centres in Ontario are hospital-based centres that provide 24/7 emergency care to women, children and men who have been sexually assaulted or who are victims or survivors of domestic violence, also known as intimate partner abuse.

The Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres (OCRCC) is an equity seeking network of women from twenty-six autonomous sexual assault/rape crisis centres across Ontario. They are committed to leading social transformation that prevents and eliminates sexual violence.

The OCRCC developed and launched a provincial education campaign addressing sexual violence and the role bystanders can play.

Draw The Line is an interactive campaign designed to engage Ontarians in a dialogue about sexual violence. The campaign challenges common myths about sexual violence and equips bystanders with information on how to intervene safely and effectively.

The OCRCC has endorsed the Ontario government's province-wide initiative, "It's Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment."

This comprehensive plan includes initiatives that will improve education for kids, youth, young adults and the general public; increase funding for survivor supports; and move us towards the goal of preventing sexual violence.

"It's Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment" commits to:

This plan effectively recognizes that sexual harassment and rape culture are rooted within generational attitudes and behaviours that take a great deal of time and effort to change. It's a good balance of education - not only for children and youth, but for post-secondary institutions, workplaces, police, the legal system, for profit and non-profit organizations, as well as the general public.

It's well documented that despite best intentions and concerted efforts, some people will refuse to change because, "there's no law that says I have to." This provincial plan addresses this regressive logic by introducing new legislation along with stronger enforcement of existing policies and laws which effectively mandates laggards to follow the rules or face the consequences.

The real thrust of this three-year plan is that it reaches kids and youth when there's still hope to instill the respect and ethics needed to create a future without gendered violence. The permanent roundtable will ensure the conversation goes on well beyond achieving the first benchmark.

As Sexual Assault Prevention Month draws to a close, consider #WhoWillYouHelp!

Doreen Nicoll is a feminist and a member of several community organizations working diligently to end poverty, hunger and gendered violence.


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By kevinlove (registered) | Posted May 29, 2015 at 16:21:06

Rape Culture

My service in the Canadian Forces played a part (a very small part) in helping to shut down the rape camps in the Former Yugoslavia. Now that really was a “rape culture.”

Here is one suggestion: Overblown generalizations are really not very helpful. It is better to look at specific problems. For example, there is considerable evidence that sexual groping on packed public transit vehicles is a very real problem in Hamilton today. I strongly suspect that I am not the only commentator here that has personally seen suspicious “accidental” bodily contact that occurred when a packed bus lurched over a pothole.

Another real issue is crappy cycling infrastructure that is unprotected so that only a small minority of users are women. With consistent polling data showing that the missing women have been terrorized off the streets by the traffic violence of car drivers.

These are two very specific examples of local Hamilton issues of violence against women that systematically blight the lives of women in Hamilton. It does not have to be this way. In The Netherlands, transportation systems are a tool of women’s emancipation and freedom. We can be the same.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted May 31, 2015 at 11:12:55

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