Break the silence, end the violence

We can no longer excuse and ignore attitudes that promote gender-based violence

One hundred and six women and girls were killed in acts of violence in Canada in the first eight months of this year.

Of those women and girls, half are from Ontario.

This is according to the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability’s September report.

At this rate, one woman or girl is killed every other day in Canada and Indigenous women are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence. There is a national crisis of Indigenous women going missing and being murdered. Violence against women is a serious issue that needs attention now.

Dec. 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada, this day marks the date that 14 women were murdered at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal, in an act of gender-based violence in 1989.

Our remembrance of these women is an opportunity to give a platform to the many members of our society who are systematically silenced.

This day is about asking why, almost three decades later, violence against women is still a major systemic issue in our communities and what concrete steps we can take, individually and collectively, to work towards eliminating all forms of violence within our communities, including here at George Brown College.

One of the ways we can take action is by speaking up.

This includes addressing all of the many and diverse actions, attitudes and behaviours related to gender-based violence.

We need to challenge behaviours that can come in the form of sexist comments, jokes about rape or consent, unwanted touching, leering and catcalling.

When a culture normalizes these behaviours, it creates increased desensitization to and tolerance for acts of violence, and the impact this has on women is serious and real.

Many everyday actions, attitudes and behaviours continue to be overlooked. We need to critically examine a culture that perpetuates sexist stereotypes of women as inferior and promotes toxic hyper-masculinity.

We can no longer excuse and ignore the ways in which such attitudes promote gender-based violence. When these attitudes and behaviours occur, we need to work together to support a common voice.

Whether we are women or allies, we need to support each other and demand change.

Everyone is encouraged to wear a white or purple ribbon for the week and to observe one minute of silence on Dec. 6 to demonstrate your ongoing commitment to end violence against women.

There is a Chinese proverb that says, “When women wake, mountains move.” Let us all stay woke and break the silence. Together we will move mountains.

 

The Dec. 6 Memorial Committee are students and faculty from the assaulted women and children’s counsellor / advocate program at George Brown College.

 

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Break the silence, end the violence