Millions of stories of violence. Against millions of women.
The United Nations has designated Nov. 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The day recognizes women across the world who are subject to rape, domestic abuse and other forms of violence, and also marks the start of the white ribbon (men against violence against women) campaign in Canada.
In Canada, the subject is top of mind following the recent sexual assault allegations against Jian Ghomeshi and the numerous allegations against Bill Cosby. But there are countless other reasons to be concerned. Dozens of stories of sexual harassment on campus, and the ongoing horror of almost 1,200 murdered and missing Aboriginal women make it impossible to forget the reality of violent crimes on our very own soil.
"I think it's easy for something to fall off the radar, after some time people have a tendency to blank it out," says Anuradha Dugal, director of Violence Prevention Programs at the Canadian Women's Foundation.
Dugal says about one in two Canadian women over the age of 16 has experienced physical or sexual violence, and in a poll by the foundation, at least 67 per cent of Canadians say they know at least one woman who has experienced this form of abuse.
But Dugal is hopeful and says after the recent coverage of violence against women in the media, there seems to be a shift in people's attitudes to talk about the subject.
"It seems less taboo to share stories and I think this will increase the understanding of violence in our society and how pervasive it is," she says. "The statistic around one in two women experiencing violence — people wouldn't have believed this years ago."
She says, however, more work has to be done through education and supporting women who are already in situations of violent relationships, for example. Talking about prevention — including a positive understanding of sex and consent, celebrity advocates and more men supporting the women's rights movement — can have an impact on eliminating violence in this country.
Starting Tuesday, The Huffington Post Canada's Living team will feature several blogs and articles around the issues of violence against women leading up to Dec. 6 — the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.
We want to share with you some of the recent, notable and powerful headlines that must be read. They are only a few of the stories about sexual assault allegations, the reality for so many Aboriginal women in Canada and so-called "honour killings" from across the globe. Read, share, ask questions, react. Listen. Support.