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Letter: Ask your candidates about violence against women

Thursday, June 05, 2014   by: SooToday.com Staff

SooToday.com received the following letter from Step It Up Coalition about the coming provincial election and efforts to stop gender-based violence.

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In recent weeks, two news stories reporting gender-based violence took international headlines.

The first was the mass attack in Santa Barbara, California where an offender killed six and wounded 13 others, pinning both his angst and methods on women who rejected him.

Another is the escalating sexual violence against women in India, where two teenage cousins and then another woman were raped and beaten last week, their bodies left abandoned to die.

What stands out in these narratives is not only the what, but the ongoing public speculation on the how: that is, in what ways can larger mechanisms - such as government policy, the law, prevention and government-supported social services - better address acts of gender-based violence.

A Twitter account, #YesAllWomen, rose in response to the Santa Barbara attacks, detailing countless women’s experiences with gender-based violence; and Richard Martinez, the father of one of the victims and a public defender, spoke out about American politicians who have supported the gun lobby.

Across the world, Indian activists and their allies watched in dismay as police silenced protesters with water cannons, instead of holding sexual offenders accountable.

The stories of Santa Barbara and India stand out in this moment of public witness, horror and reflection as examples of how governmental action can become complicit in violence targeting women.

On the other hand, we are left to consider the ways in which the lives of women and girls are safeguarded when our governments collaborate against contexts that feed gendered violence: working against gendered poverty, for example, increasing safe shelter and crisis supports, changing inequity and ensuring access to the law.

Canada is not immune to the impacts of government action upon gendered violence. In another news story, this one much closer to home, RCMP confirmed that 1,186 Aboriginal women are missing and believed murdered in Canada over the last three decades.

Carol Goar (The Star) points to the role of government embedded in the problem: “this issue goes far beyond the purview of the police,” Goar states. “A parliamentary committee that recently studied the epidemic of violence against indigenous women concluded it was rooted in the poverty, isolation, substandard housing, underfunded schools” and other social issues; which, by extension, is rooted in the “government’s failures” to address the situation of aboriginal women —in its place, offering “a long history of neglect, condescension and stinginess”.

In Ontario, our capacity to address and prevent violence against women is likewise connected to our provincial government’s interest in doing so.

Between 1995-2003, when the provincial government cut funding to women’s shelters, rape crisis centres, social assistance rates and other supports, the province saw multiple inquests (May Iles in 1998, Teresa Vince in 1997 and Gillian Hadley in 2002), each highlighting the role that government budgets and social policy can –and should - have in supporting women in situations of domestic, sexual and workplace violence.

Since 2004, the Ontario Liberals’ Domestic Violence Action Plan has implemented initiatives to raise awareness of domestic violence and strengthen support for victims.

These include, among other things, training for more than 34,000 front-line service providers and amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act to prevent violence in the workplace, including domestic violence and sexual harassment.

The Liberal-initiated Sexual Violence Action Plan (2011) provided an additional $3 million over four years to sexual assault centres across the province to increase their response to victims of sexual assault in their communities, and to challenge attitudes about sexual violence.

The Ontario New Democratic Party also has a strong record of working to end violence against women, recently arguing against a governmental decision to reduce the length of time that offenders must spend in Partner Assault Response Programs (PAR).

In view of the upcoming Ontario election, Step It Up—a coalition of women’s equity-seeking groups representing over 150 organizations—wrote the three major party leaders and asked how their party would speak to the needs of women experiencing violence in Ontario.

The Liberal Party noted that their budget proposes an additional $15 million over three years to women’s shelters – a commitment they will maintain if elected.

The Liberals and the NDPs both state that, if elected, they will invest $2 million to support a Joint Working Group on Violence against Aboriginal Women.

The NDP party also confirm that they will maintain the current funding allocation for organizations that serve women experiencing violence.

The Ontario PC Party did not respond to queries on how their party will address gender-based violence.  

As women’s advocates in California and India would no doubt agree, it takes both community and our elected representatives to shift the realities of gender-based violence.

Ontario’s record has shown that government commitments to addressing sexual and domestic violence make a clear difference in the lives of women and girls.  

We need to work together to prevent violence, change the laws, and provide compassionate services.

Ask your candidate what their party will do to end violence against women and children in Ontario.

http://stepitupontario.ca/

https://twitter.com/stepitupo

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Comments
12
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
Gurpy 6/5/2014 8:04:22 PM Report

What does violence in California and India have to do with our provincial elections? We can`t even handle our own problems and we`re expected to involve ourselves in someone else`s? Goodness!!
Harpoon 6/5/2014 8:19:57 PM Report

All I have to say if CSA did the proper job and take women for their words maybe women can something to protect them self
before it ends up going this far.
So if the goverment would do it's job and get the onbudsemen to do the job maybe women can get the protection they knew.
Me Myself an I 6/5/2014 8:33:27 PM Report

Except for the event in California, he killed more men than women.
Oreo cookie 6/5/2014 10:54:06 PM Report

And let's not forget about the millions of MEN who were shreded by shrapnel and lead in the two world wars that tested the medal of Western civilization. And if I'm not mistaken it was the MEN who were forced to dig their own graves after being hearded to the outskirts of their towns to be slaughtered in cold blood...by a nation that despised anyone religiously or culturally different. In a time of peril or chaos it's the MEN who are willingly on the front lines. When the ship is sinking it's women and children into the life boats first. Not to diminish the inherent respect MEN are obligated to have for women I'm actually sick and tired of hearing about how the militant feminists feel hard done by.
KEEP up with the multiculturalism crap and before you know it women will be publicly stoned for driving an automobile.
Oreo cookie 6/5/2014 11:19:49 PM Report

As an addendum to my previous post I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our heroes who landed in Normandy 70years ago and to the men and women who gave all they had in support of the war effort both on the home front and overseas, truly a testament to the fact that they are the "Greatest Generation" of our time. The next time YOU have a personal gripe about any meaningless or trivial disruption in your life just think about what those soldiers went through at Juno, Sword, Gold and Omaha...before the ramp went down on their landing craft.
To the remaining veterans of WWII God Bless and God Speed, salute.
jonesur 6/5/2014 11:23:11 PM Report

There are idiots in this society who are violent toward women. They are scum and deserve to be treated as such. This story, and too many like it, are concocted to make ALL males feel guilty. Do not fall prey to this BS!!!

In almost all circumstances, these crimes are perpetrated by insecure Muslim males. As was the case with the Polytechnique slaughter in Quebec in the 1980's. Governments and Media tried to convince us it was a masculine supremacy problem because they were too uncomfortable with the actual facts, ie Radical Islamic hatred for women.

To call them insecure is a misnomer. They are well aware of their motives, and are succeeding in their attempt to subvert society. It is far too easy, when the masses stand silent and mainstream academia excuse the behaviour due to intellectual sloth.
Number One Son 6/6/2014 12:04:41 AM Report

Since the author has to scratch and scrounge for isolated incidences in other countries, I would say we have a pretty good handle on things here in Canada. Park the women's agenda where the sun don't shine, and worry about things much more important like fuel cost, education, and healthcare. Give it a rest.
J_B 6/6/2014 7:59:17 AM Report

All violence is morally wrong. I was the oldest boy of 4 kids. Dad taught me to never hit my brothers or sisters. He also taught me never to hit a girl, even if she was bigger than me, even if she hit me first. Family morals still go a long way. Ask your candidate about violence, and then ask about support networks for families.
Slim Shady 6/6/2014 8:02:35 AM Report

This is a poorly written letter that tries to send an important concern, albeit with poorly drawn parallels. Violence against any person, whether it is physical, psychological, et cetera is unacceptable in our society. I really do get sick and tired with special interest group that focus on women when in reality violence affects EVERYONE. Women do not foster their cause by painting all men as evil abusers or making statements that women have it harder than men.

That being said this is an important issue that can be better addressed by instituting tougher laws and corresponding punishment to all violent crimes. This is something I think all government candidates should be addressing. It is no less important than gas prices, jobs etc. What good is cheap gas or a good job if a person is beat to death outside their house?! Just a thought.
Cashmier 6/6/2014 9:10:17 AM Report

I'm appalled at the lack of reading comprehension from the people who chose to comment on this article.

The letter starts off by drawing our attention to current globally reported incidents of violence against women. They use these examples to explain the programs that have been proven most effective at reducing gender violence. They also contrast the reactions from the respective governments and citizens. Everybody must have skipped over the middle part where they mention that HERE IN CANADA well over 1000 aboriginal women have been missing and are presumed to be murdered (as per the RCMP). Violence against women, especially aboriginal women, is still a significant issue in Canada. Sadly, this isn't even a new fact.

The purpose of this letter is to bring forward the stance of the political parties in regard to programming and support. It has nothing to do with WWI, WWII or the sacrifices made at that time. Both men and women fought and died in Afghanistan. Sadly, even though we have advanced gender equality we still haven't eradicated gender violence in our country.
Bristol1 6/6/2014 9:48:23 AM Report

These missing aboriginal women everyone keeps talking about lived high risk lives. violence against women will keep rising in this country as long as we keep letting in people from other countries who condone it. Funny that this letter didnt mention even one case of the many 'honour' killings canada has experienced over the last ten years.
IB-fine 6/7/2014 12:34:09 PM Report

I have to wonder if any of you guys actually read the WHOLE article? Or stopped at it mentioning the situations in India and Santa Barbara rapes/murders?
The missing 1200 native women didn't all live high risk lifestyles. Some disappeared on the "highway of tears", some just walking home from school, and some just off the street of a downtown area, where other people were in mid-day, one minute there the next gone. People thought they just went into a store or building but they didn't! Someone took them!

@Oreo how dare you insult my grandfather who did fight in WWI and who had shrapnel coughed up or had come out of his skin every day for the rest of his 88 years; and my father who was in WWII and with the Royal Air Force from 1938 to 1947 and was shot down 3 TIMES on D-Day to land in the channel twice but the 3 time end up on the beach in a cave with what was left of his crew 2 dying, over the 3 days they were in there. He suffered from PTSD the rest of his life after that and other monstrosities he witnessed and lived through the war, but did what most of those of that generation did and drank the pain away and didn't speak of it.
You insult them by thinking that what they did and who they were was more important than a woman beaten within an inch of her life, or being raped by "a friend" or a bunch of animals gang raping a woman for "fun? sport?"
Either one of these MEN fought not only for the Commonwealth but also for the protection of women and children and of course would save them first in any situation as was the custom then!
And no matter the situation my dad never laid a negative hand on a woman EVER! and taught young men and his grandsons the same. He would have been first in line to beat some sense into a man who abused a woman, if it was allowed. And with us his daughters, as he was also a former boxer, showed us how to throw a punch and defend ourselves against attack from a man. A few have learned that the hard way not to mess with us!

HOWEVER, the article is asking the parties in the election is they will maintain to expand funding for resources for women to escape bad situations and for rape crisis centres and counselling.

A number of these places have had their budgets slashed by Harris's PC's then some funding restored with the Liberals but most are still not back to pre-1995 funding levels.
Many of these centres also counsel men who have been abused as children to teenage years as well.

So that was the question...FUNDING!!! not what city, province, country the problem lies with. But is the funding going to be there to maintain or increase at its current levels?
Comments
12
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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