International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

“Violence against women remains prevalent, pervasive, systemic, and even sanctioned. The key challenge that remains is to move the issue from awareness that it is a human rights violation and a crime, to making it socially unacceptable and counter to community norms.”— United Nations In-Depth Study on All Forms of Violence against Women: Report of the Secretary-General, 2006

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Whenever people claim that feminism is no longer needed I immediately think of the 51% of Canadian women who will experience at least one incident of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. That's half of us beaten, choked, sexually assaulted or otherwise injured in our lifetimes. The devastating figure should demand action. Violence against women isn't something that only happens in faraway places.

A 2004 Statistics Canada report on family violence showed that 7% of women and 6% of men in a current or past spousal relationship encountered spousal violence between 1999 and 2004. Female victims were twice as likely to be injured as male victims and were also three times more likely to fear for their lives, and twice as likely to be the targets of more than 10 violent episodes.

Earlier this year two men roamed one of York University's residence buildings in Toronto, randomly opening students' doors, searching out lone women to rape. In September a female Carleton University student was beaten unconscious, suffering a dislocated shoulder, broken jaw and sexual assault. We don't hear about the less dramatic cases but they happen all the time (in British Columbia, where the sexual assault rate is twice the national average, a whopping 47% of women have been sexually assaulted) and they won't stop because women limit their actions, curtail their behaviours and remain in high alert mode. They won't be stopped by those things because women's behaviours and actions aren't what's causing acts of violence against them in the first place.

Women are targets simply because they are female and violence committed against women can't be stopped by women alone. We can raise our voices, raise awareness, volunteer for and help fund anti-violence campaigns but violence against women is as much a men's issue as it is a women's issue. Men who find violence against women intolerable need to raise their voices along with us and work towards creating a Canada (and planet) where half its citizens aren't at lifelong risk. It's not enough for any of us to silently disagree with the status quo. Not a minute more.White Ribbon

Check out White Ribbon member Richard McAdam's blog entry taken from the latest issue of the White Ribbon campaign newsletter.

Join Amnesty International's Stop Violence Against Women campaign, Men Stopping Violence, White Ribbon Canada or White Ribbon U.K. 

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