Time to end violence against women

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Women in Communities all over the province this past week have been participating in Take Back the Night in Newfoundland and Labrador. What is this really all about?For almost 40 years, women have continued to organize rally's, walks, and community activities in an effort to protest violence against women and make a very public stand in hopes of raising awareness that this is still a very real problem. Women unite and voice the desire to end the fear and perceived responsibility women experience when it comes to sexual assault, harassment, and other forms of violence.

Violence against women encompasses much more than individual acts of physical brutality. Women have historically been, and continue to be, subjected to a systemic violence, which denies us access to resources and decision-making power. Domestic violence, sexual violence, sexual harassment, racism, homophobia, poverty, denial of reproductive freedom, and inadequate access to safe and affordable housing and resources all impinge upon the lives of women in ways that are different from men's experiences.

Of the 217,900 women over the age of 15 residing in Newfoundland and Labrador, approximately 108,950 (1 in 2) will experience at least one incident of sexual or physical violence throughout their lifetime. Approximately 10% (10,895) of these women will actually report this victimization to police.

We know the problem exists, we have been rallying for almost 40 years to protest it, yet it is still affecting individuals, families and communities today. We need to think about this and understand how each person, men and women, have responsibilities in ending violence.

By first admitting we each play a role in shaping the lives of our families and communities and taking responsibility for the part we play in role modeling with respect to children and others is a very good place to start.

Many of these community rally's are led by women's organizations who work tirelessly each day because of the impacts systemic and relational violence have on women, children and community. Becoming involved in Take Back the Night activities to show support for these service providers and the victims they represent is an obvious way families can become involved. Learn more about the event and how to become involved by visiting www.nlsacpc.com/Take-Back-the-Night.htm

Men have a very important role to play in the fight to end violence against women. We know most men are not violent. They are role models to their children, some are teachers, some are coaches, and they often are leaders in the community. Taking a stand against sexist attitudes and modeling respect with partners in relationships and toward others have profound impacts in the lives of boys and the communities around them. To learn more about how to respect women visit www.respectwomen.ca.

Lets not have the sirens, noise makers, womens voices fall on deaf ears. Until we take the time to hear, understand and take a stand, the same marches will be taking place next year and the year after that. Small changes in the way we think and the behaviors we accept can have positive ripple effects toward respect, equality and ending violence in any form.

Submitted jointly by Northern Committee Against Violence and Violence Prevention Labrador.

Organizations: Northern Committee

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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