Call violence what it is

Call violence what it is Nov. 25 marks the start of the annual 12 Days to End Violence Against Women campaign in the Yukon. Is anything different for this year's annual campaign than last year? We have seen many instances this year of violence against wo

Nov. 25 marks the start of the annual 12 Days to End Violence Against Women campaign in the Yukon. Is anything different for this year’s annual campaign than last year?

We have seen many instances this year of violence against women hitting the front page: Jian Ghomeshi, Rinelle Harper, sexual harassment on Parliament Hill, the growing call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

I’ve also seen commentators calling this a “tipping point” for violence against women advocates, but I’m still not convinced that is what we face. Unfortunately, gendered violence has been happening for generations. Women have been resisting this violence for just as long, both privately and publicly. Why hasn’t there been as much media coverage and public attention dedicated to these women and the injustice they have faced? Why haven’t those been a tipping point?

Perhaps more accurately, the events of this year provide an “opening.” They offer a new conversation piece around which we can mobilize. So many Canadians know who Jian is and – somewhat surprisingly to me – feel they have developed a personal relationship with him through his radio show. Now, we can all have the same conversation in different places, but together. Someone we know committed horrible violent acts against women. How do we respond?

Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre and our community partners are suggesting in this year’s campaign that as a first step, we can respond by examining the language we use to describe this violence. By calling violence what it is, we offer a more accurate picture of violence in the media, the public, and the legal system.

By using unilateral words like violence, assault, and rape instead of mutualizing words like domestic dispute and relationship problems, we can create a better response to women who have experienced violence and ultimately, a recognition that this injustice is unacceptable.

The campaign launches on Tuesday, Nov. 25 at Yukon College. To learn more about language use specifically, we are inviting everyone to come to an information session Wednesday, Nov. 26 at 1 p.m. at the Whitehorse Public Library. Keep an eye out for our posters.

Attend the many other events happening as part of the 12 Days campaign. Above all, join the conversation.

Hillary Aitken

Program Coordinator

Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre

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