Fashion Gender-Based Violence 2018 News & Opinions

Canadian Gender-Based Violence Advocates: Who the Heroes Are

Canadian Gender-Based Violence Advocates: Who the Heroes Are
Canadian advocates against gender-based violence: seven women pose together in business formal clothes

(Photograph: courtesy of The Ladies’s Authorized Schooling and Motion Fund)

The final couple of years have introduced us with a seemingly infinite roll name of villains to lament and detest. From serial rapists to sexual harassers to predatory, coercive, masturbatory and/or simply preternaturally terrible male celebrities, the horror headlines have gone on and on and on and on. (And on!) Although it typically seems like we reside in the worst episode of Dateline ever, there are heroes in our midst, individuals who’ve utilized themselves to combatting the villains of sexual assault, femicide, structural inequality, sexism and simply plain ignorance.

Listed here are eight people and organizations that deserve recognition for his or her heroic efforts.

A portrait of Nadine Thornhill in a blue and white patterned dress

(Photograph: courtesy of Nadine Thornhill)

Nadine Thornhill, intercourse educator

Three cheers for Nadine Thornhill. Over the previous yr, the Toronto-based educator has used her YouTube channel to show each module in Ontario’s 2015 well being schooling curriculum—the one the Ford authorities scrapped this previous September out of concern that educating youngsters about consent, the sorts of human sexuality and the correct names of their genitalia represented was not “age-appropriate.” For Thornhill, the info isn’t controversial, it’s important. “We’re talking about info that’s related to how we identify, how we understand our bodies, our physical health and the way we enter and conduct relationships.”

The results of consciously preserving youngsters in the darkish about human sexuality are all too actual and may be seen in the methods many adults conduct themselves. “No wonder we are so dysfunctional when it comes to sexual interactions with other people.” Thornhill doesn’t simply preach to the choir, although. She needs her movies to talk to those that’ve been misled about the nature of the content material. “It’s not really controversial or radical the way people framed it. A lot of it is very basic and age appropriate if you know how to teach it.”

A portrait of Andy Villanueva in a white sweater.

(Photograph: courtesy of Andy Villanueva)

Andy Villanueva, filmmaker and activist

Andy Villanueva’s standing as an immigrant and her experiences as a survivor of sexual assault are an integral function of her work as an activist and filmmaker. So, too, is her spectacular capacity to name out sexist myths and stereotypes slightly than internalize them.

Her activism began in highschool, when she understood that discussions about uniforms and gown codes have been knowledgeable by discrimination. She wasn’t alone; her buddies Kerin John and Erin Dixon have been equally involved. 

“That’s when we realized that dress codes give context to rape culture to exist in classrooms,” says the now 22-year-old Ryerson College movie scholar.

The trio shaped Venture Slut, a gaggle that took on sexist insurance policies and tradition at their downtown Toronto highschool. Challenge Slut quickly started lobbying for the abolition of the gown code (they usually have been profitable). 

Since then, she’s gone on to make a reputation for herself as an rising filmmaker. Her brief movie, Anticipate Me—which paperwork her expertise of getting an abortion at the age of 15—gained the Horizon Award at the 2017 Sundance Movie Pageant. It was a deeply private and painful movie to make, however one she felt was crucial in the present local weather, particularly in the US, the place reproductive rights are beneath hearth and undocumented ladies are weak.

“I didn’t have a lot to offer. I couldn’t monetarily advocate for anybody, and I didn’t have a platform for it. But I had this story…I knew that undocumented women in the States didn’t have a voice and need more solidarity.”

The Sundance Award took Villanneuva to Cannes after which to Winnipeg to work as an assistant director on JT Leroy, starring Kristin Stewart. Now, she’s simply wrapped work on her newest movie, a documentary on the lives and struggles of Mexican mid-wives in Chiapas. 

Subsequent up? “I want to teach other young people how to do micro-cinema, which is accessible because that’s how I got to go to Sundance and Cannes and work on a film with Kristen Stewart and all this bananas stuff,” she says. “The goal is to encourage people to take on filmmaking and to empower themselves, because people deserve to see themselves as heroes.”

A portrait of Myrna Dawson in a leopard-print top

(Photograph: courtesy of Myrna Dawson)

Myrna Dawson, director, Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability

For the previous 4 many years, Myrna Dawson, director of the Centre for the Research of Social and Authorized Responses to Violence at the College of Guelph, has been documenting femicide in Ontario. Counting the variety of women and girls killed by males annually in the province isn’t just a mandatory tribute to the lives misplaced, it’s an integral part in revealing the epidemic of violence towards ladies and the numerous societal and structural elements that perpetuate it. In 2017, after the UN referred to as on all nations to determine entities targeted solely on accumulating knowledge associated to gender-based killings of women and girls, Dawson prolonged that purview, establishing the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability.

One among the Observatory’s core objectives is to disclose the methods through which “some women, or groups of women, continue to be marginalized, increasing their vulnerability to femicide” and to spotlight stereotypes, attitudes and sexist beliefs that perpetuate hurt. It’s painful knowledge to gather and disseminate, however Dawson is inspired by elevated consciousness. “There have been transformations in the way society addresses violence against women and girls. The increasing use of the term “femicide” is encouraging by itself. We concentrate on that and the ladies themselves, these experiencing violence who’ve such resilience in lots of instances.”

A portrait of Charlene Senn in a pink top

(Photograph: courtesy of Charlene Senn)

Charlene Senn, professor and Canada Analysis Chair in Sexual Violence, College of Windsor

Few teachers that research violence towards ladies can declare to have performed a task in decreasing incidences of perpetration. However they’re not all Charlene Senn. The College of Windsor professor’s sexual assault prevention program, Enhanced Assess, Acknowledge, Act Sexual Assault Resistance Program (ESAAA), or “Flip the Script” for brief, has been proven to scale back rape on campus by half, and tried rape by greater than two-thirds.

Flip the Script is a 12-hour workshop that teaches first-year college college students to to right away belief their instincts and act on them in conditions that acquaintances—a.okay.a. the males probably to assault them—are possible to make use of in forcing intercourse. (As an example, what to do in case your roommate’s boyfriend insists on coming into your condo despite the fact that you’ve advised him she’s not house, and you are feeling uncomfortable being alone with him.)

“Our whole lives we’ve been taught that the danger comes from strangers, and we’re taught to take precautions that don’t actually protect us but that restrict our freedom,” Senn says. EAAA “flips the traditional socialization script for women on its head, empowering them to trust their own judgment, overcome the social and interpersonal pressures to be nice, and the fear of hurting other people when your own sexual integrity is threatened.”

This system is now provided at campuses in Canada, the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, to call a couple of. And it’s not the solely contribution Senn has made to campus security. Because of her work, the College of Windsor was additionally the first to supply bystander schooling programming, which seeks to vary the tradition round perpetrators and thereby scale back alternatives for predation. “There is no magic bullet,” Senn says. “We need to work on multiple fronts.”

The women of LEAF

(Photograph: courtesy of The Ladies’s Authorized Schooling and Motion Fund)

The Ladies’s Authorized Schooling and Motion Fund

Wherever a lady’s proper to equality, as enshrined in the Constitution of Rights and Freedoms, is being threatened, you’ll discover the Ladies’s Authorized Schooling and Motion Fund preventing to remind politicians and courts of their obligations to guard her. Since 1985, the non-profit has intervened in additional than 90 such instances, and sometimes earlier than the Supreme Courtroom of Canada in landmark selections. The nation-wide group—comprised largely of volunteers, feminist legal professionals and authorized students from round the nation—litigates and advocates for equality rights for ladies and women throughout a broad vary of areas, from reproductive justice to pay fairness.

LEAF has made specifically vital contributions to the evolutions of a number of Canadian sexual assault legal guidelines, together with enjoying an instrumental position in how the Supreme Courtroom of Canada defines consent. “We participated in [R v. Ewanchuk] to emphasize that not only does no mean no, yes means yes…that consent is affirmative and ongoing and can be withdrawn at any time for any reason and that’s the nature of women’s autonomy,” says LEAF authorized director Shaun O’Brien. Defending that victory takes up lots of effort and time, nevertheless. LEAF’s authorized minds have to repeatedly go to bat towards the “pervasive set of myths and stereotypes throughout society” that make their means into sexual assault instances, and that, sadly, discover their means into the mouths of ruling judges. Most just lately, LEAF has tackled such concepts in the judicial assessment of Justice Robin Camp—the decide who infamously requested a complainant why she didn’t maintain her legs closed to stop her personal rape—and the attraction of the choice to re-try Bradley Barton, the man accused of killing Cindy Gladue.

Jackie Stevens, Avalon Sexual Assault Centre; Halifax

Since 1984, the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre in Halifax has sought to fill the vacuum in providers for survivors of sexual assault, notably these coping with historic or childhood sexual abuse. The centre, which takes an explicitly feminist, trauma-informed strategy to care, has grown with its group over time and helped change the means sexual assault survivors entry providers all through the province. In 2000, Avalon launched SANE in partnership with the provincial division of well being, a program by which nurses are educated to  carry out sexual assault examinations in hospitals (and can also be referred to as to testify in courtroom). A pilot program in the province, it was later adopted by 4 hospitals.

In 2016, working with native youth, Avalon created the Don’t Inform Me I Owe You poster marketing campaign. “It’s a public awareness campaign but we also use it as a public education tool resource to teach ideas around consent, healthy relationships, and myths and stereotypes around what’s perceived as normal sexual interaction,” says Jackie Stevens, Avalon’s government director. The idea has impressed different centres to adapt the idea for their very own communities, and posters from the venture have been a part of a visible show at the Cannes Movie Pageant in 2017. Most lately, Avalon partnered with LEAF to efficiently problem the acquittal of Bassam Al Rawi, the Halifax taxi driver accused of sexually assaulting an intoxicated feminine passenger.

A portrait of Constance Backhouse in a black dress, with a scarf around her neck

(Photograph: courtesy of Constance Backhouse)

Constance Backhouse, director of the Human Rights Analysis and Schooling Centre, College of Ottawa

Your hand will cramp in an try and document the variety of awards and citations feminist authorized scholar and historian Constance Backhouse has acquired for her work over the previous 4 many years. A pioneering feminist authorized voice, she’s by no means taken the ‘meanwhile in Canada’ strategy to taking a look at Canadian society, however from the starting of her profession has sought to teach Canadians on our nation’s darkish historical past of injustice—notably towards ladies and marginalized teams. Her bibliography speaks volumes. In 1979 she co-authored the very first Canadian guide on sexual harassment, Secret Oppression: Harassment of Working Ladies in Canada; in 1999 she checked out pervasive racism in A Authorized Historical past of Racism in Canada. Her contribution to discussions of sexual assault regulation has been essential. In her 2008 e-book, Carnal Crimes: Sexual Assault Regulation in Canada, she took a historian’s view of the sexist myths and stereotypes which have outlined sexual assault instances and rulings from 1900 t0 1975, calling out each Canadian courts and society for its “appalling failures” of complainants. In her view, societal change and authorized reform go hand in hand. “Many Canadians look to law to try to dismantle discrimination. This is a good first step, and sometimes it works. But too many times, the law not only fails to dismantle discrimination, it actively contributes to it,” she says. “And sometimes we make major improvements to law, but on the ground things remain much the same. Canadians need to realize that our society remains riddled with unjust inequalities. It needs to be challenged at many points.”

A portrait of Senator Yvonne Boyer in a pink top and black blazer

(Photograph: courtesy of Yvonne Boyer)

Senator Yvonne Boyer

Nurse, lawyer, and the first Indigenous individual to characterize Ontario in the Senate, Yvonne Boyer has lived a couple of lives. Her expertise in the medical career was formative. “I was a nurse for many years, and I had heard people say that the problem we have with our Indigenous communities is that the women need to be sterilized,” she recollects.

As a lawyer, she’s raised consciousness about how racism inside the Canadian well being care system harms Indigenous individuals. Lately, she and Dr. Judith Bartlett introduced Canadians with conclusive proof that this racism has resulted in horrific present-day human rights abuses. A 2017 report by Boyer and Dr. Judith Bartlett revealed that at the very least seven Indigenous ladies in Saskatoon had been coerced or pressured into present process tubal ligation. The report’s launch noticed much more individuals come ahead. At present, 60 ladies are suing Saskatoon Well being Area, the province of Saskatchewan, and the Canadian authorities, claiming they have been coerced, pressured or pressured into sterilization.

These claims may be the tip of the iceberg. “I think it’s widespread across Canada. I don’t know how it couldn’t be. And I’m not 100% sure that it’s only happening to Indigenous women. I think it’s happening to poor women and women that can’t stand up for themselves, women that are vulnerable.”

Senator Boyer goals to talk for the weak. Her first order of enterprise: asking the Senate to think about launching a nationwide inquiry into the pressured sterilization of Indigenous ladies. “I hope that structural changes can be made in our health care system to prevent this from every happening again. I want to see my daughters have children, and my granddaughters.”  


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