The Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay has signed a proclamation declaring Sept. 17-21 as Sexual Violence Awareness Week.
The Mokami Status of Women Council will be holding its Take Back the Night March tonight.
The event is an opportunity to raise awareness about gender-based violence and gender equality as well as a chance to speak out against sexual violence.
Those wishing to take part in the march will meet at 5:30 pm at the Mokami Status of Women Council (43 Grenfell Street).
Information posted on the Mokami Status of Women Council website (www.mokamiwomen.ca) notes that the march is a public protest organized by women, for women. It’s an event that enables large numbers of women to publicly express their anger at the sexual violence that goes on and the victim blaming that accompanies it.
While the event gets underway with the participation of women and children, men and other supporters can also join in the walk from the Provincial Court House.
Participants will make their way to Town Hall where the march will end and a BBQ will follow for all marchers.
“We’ll open up the space to anyone who’d like to speak about their story or about anything related to the night to have a space to do so,” said Mokami Status of Women Council executive director, Raelene Vickers.
The Women Council hosts the event with the assistance and collaboration of numerous other community-based organizations.
Sexual assault statistics
Vickers said she has reviewed data from the RCMP for 2015 statistics based on sexual assault reports for the RCMP’s jurisdiction throughout the province.
“There were 399 assaults reported to the RCMP and 99 of those were from Indigenous women or assaults that happened in Indigenous communities,” she said when contacted by phone on Sept. 19.
Because of the high number of sexual assaults in her area, Vickers said, she’d like to see a program similar to the one Eastern Health offers to sexual assault victims.
Vickers said the sexual assault nurse examiner program would help a woman after she comes forward when an assault happens.
If the program where in place, she said, women would know that they aren’t going to have to wait for hours to be seen at a hospital.
Having such a program also means that the health professional they will see will be aware of how traumatic such an assault is on a woman, Vickers said.
“And they’ll collect samples (physical evidence) that most (nurse examiner) programs will hold onto for six months up to a year to give (the woman) more time to decide if they want to go through the criminal justice system because it can be very hard to make that decision right away,” she said.