News about violence against women is all around us. Local, national and international headlines about sexual assaults on university campuses, domestic violence by professional athletes, on-line bullying, sexual assault allegations against celebrities and the 1,181 known missing and murdered Aboriginal women are putting the issue in the spotlight and keeping it there.
December 6th is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women in Canada. Established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada, this day marks the anniversary of the murders in 1989 of 14 young women at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal. They were killed because they were women.
Violence against women remains a powerful barrier to women’s equality. Women experience violence in many different ways – it can be physical or sexual abuse, emotional or verbal abuse, financial manipulation or control, spiritual abuse, criminal harassment or stalking. It can occur at work, in the home, or in the community.
Nationally, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) has released the results of the groundbreaking, first-ever national survey on the impact of domestic violence on the workplace in Canada. One third of respondents had experienced domestic violence. Half of those had faced it – harassing emails, calls, texts, stalking and physical violence – at or near work. A large majority (82%) said their ability to do their job was negatively impacted and almost ten percent of those lost their jobs because of it. Women, Aboriginal people, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and gender diverse people reported higher rates of violence. Using this survey as a starting place, the labour movement is ready to take the lead and work with employers to ensure people experiencing domestic violence can easily access the help they need in the workplace.
Locally, on December 6th, the USSU Women’s Centre and the Saskatoon Women’s Community Coalition (SWCC) will be hosting a panel in conjunction with a screening of “Polytechnique,” a film about the Montreal Massacre, at the Roxy Theatre on 20th Avenue in Saskatoon. The screening will be offered at 3:30 p.m., with admission by donation.
In honour of the women who lost their lives that day, as well as the many thousands of women in Canada who have been subject to violence since, CAUT has prepared this short video statement.
This day is an opportunity for us to think about the impact of violence on the lives of girls and women, to remember those who have died as a result and to consider concrete ways to work towards eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls. Silence is not an option. Remember. Resist. Rebel.