At least one in three women experience abuse be it sexual or physical in their lifetime. Statistics show that on any given day in Canada, on average 3000 women along with 2500 children enter emergency shelters due to domestic violence. Nearly 400,000 women over the age of 15 report sexual abuse every year in Canada and as experts have gauged the percentage of reported cases as merely 10% of the actual numbers, things are much direr than you might expect.
I think we can all agree that things are not as they should be and some sort of change must take place in order to establish the rights of women and girls as members of our society. Living is a liberal democracy you might have assumed that these rights are already there and women enjoy the same protection under law as all other members, yet the facts and statistics show a different reality. Women are less likely to obtain managerial positions in the workforce and they are shamefully underrepresented in the executive hierarchy. They make less than their male counterparts, and are more likely to be fired due to pregnancy. Their cases of sexual abuse are likely to be ignored by the police and are taken less seriously by the judiciary system.
Even today, in the age of supposed enlightenment, certain vocations are deemed feminine and suitable only for women. Nurses, daycare and primary school teachers, food service employees, secretary positions, HR workers, all are labeled as feminine, and as men are ridiculed through social convention, and masculinity nonsense when applying for these positions, the openings are inevitably filled by women looking for paid work. This vicious cycle stops women from moving up the work ladder and gaining the high end spots.
A major player in downgrading women’s position in our society is the media and how they misrepresent women. Watching a few hours of any television channel and you get a sense that women are either sex objects preoccupied with their looks, hair and makeup, or they are domestic creatures there to clean, wash and take care of their sick children. Even when there is a product that historically has provided an advantage for women to be more autonomous and in charge of their bodies like pregnancy tests, they have to be marketed as family friendly products lest we anger the religious right by seemingly hint at the evils of abortion.
These facts are our concern because they are happening in our society, through our own system which preaches unity and practices prejudice. When you look at other countries, things become much more unbearable. The recent case of the 23 year old Indian girl Jyoti Singh Pandey who died of her injuries after being gang raped and beaten, shook the world and enraged many in the biggest so called democracy in the world. In Japan problem with public sexual abuse has become so severe that women only trains are now in operation to stop these problems, yet public sexual abusing seem to grow as a suitable fantasy for men who try to satisfy their need through Japanese porn. This very week a Somali woman who told a reporter about being raped by the regime representatives, along with the reporter were sentenced to jail by a judge who ruled their accusations as antigovernment. A Saudi preacher who raped his own five year old daughter and then tortured her to death walked free after paying a small amount of “Blood Money”.
One Billion Rising is a global movement to end violence against women and girls, and it is organized by the writer Eve Ensler and now includes 196 countries. It is time to highlight these injustices and try to find a solution for the mistreatment of women. Montreal is also part of this event, and on the 14th of February, between the hours of 3 PM to 4 PM, people will gather around the Square Victoria Monument to rise.
Sabrina Steczko who heads the organizing committee says: “As a social conscious person I want to influence positive change, education and empowerment. Raising awareness creates collective consciousness. I trust that Montreal, Quebec and all of Canada will realize the impact of this movement and that all around the globe Countries are RISING UP for a World with No Violence.”
Betty Esperanza who is one of the organizers of One Billion Rising Montreal says: “We need to make real concrete demands to stop violence against women starting with advocacy programs in each city. We must concentrate our efforts in advocacy, education and changing laws to support the victims. We need to pressure the government into funding associations that are instrumental in supporting women who have been violated such as the Le Regroupment Quebecois CALACS which has a hotline for women and adolescents to call for help. 1-888 933-9007.”
Sabrina Steczko adds: “Having an event once does not create transformation. It is crucial to maintain consistency year after year and it is equally important to maintain our relationship with organizations and foundations, like our main sponsor: Le Regroupement Quebecois les C.A.L.A.C.S. that will ensure that services and laws will turn for the advantage of women and children. To raise awareness is not enough, we need an action plan. And we need to re-evaluate our strategies effectiveness every year.”
In order to raise awareness and change the way our society deals with its members we must join events like One Billion Rising Montreal. We must do something about the violence and abuse of women in our society and change the culture that has led us here and continues to ignore women’s rights. I am rising on the 14th of February, and if you are concerned with the status of women you must too, and together we might send a wakeup call to all those who have been ignoring these detestable mistreatments.
One Billion Rising Montreal will take place on the 14th of February 2013 at Square Victoria Monument in Montreal between 3pm and 4pm. Please like their page on facebook and join the cause: https://www.facebook.com/