Violence Against Women

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Since the Montreal Massacre, Not Enough Has Changed for Women

When Marc Lépine went to the École Polytechnique 23 years ago today, he entered the school with the intention of killing feminists. Feminists, he said in his suicide note, had ruined his life. I was seven years old when École Polytechnique Massacre happened. I want to think that the world has changed since then, but really, has it? Women are still the butt of the joke. Women are still lacking in positions of power. Women are still being told that they need to compete against each other. There is still a persistent bias against women in the worlds of math and science. If there's anything that can be learned from the latest American election, it's that there are still men who hate women. A lot of men. Powerful men.
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Why Women Stay in Abusive Relationships

We've all seen the recent headlines with high profile allegations of domestic abuse. I can't count the number of times I've heard friends and family ask the same question of those stories: "why doesn't she just leave?" Too many people assume that if a woman is in an abusive relationship that she is making a choice to stay and that she has the power to end the abuse if she just leaves.
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How I'm Raising Awareness About Violence Against Women

On this day to combat and raise awareness of violence against women, I donate to our women's shelters, and light candles in remembrance of many: all those I have known who have been hurt by a family member, a partner, a friend, an acquaintance; all those who are still struggling to escape the violence; and all those who are slowly healing.
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Talking to My Son About #Rapeface

Last week my 12-year-old son and his friends used a term I hadn't heard before: "rape face." So we sat down to talk. He was emphatic that #rapeface wasn't actually about rape and rolled his eyes with a "mom, what's the big deal?" We need to be having these conversations with our kids and with our own peers about reclaiming words like rape if we want to start making a big deal about putting an end to rape culture.
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Is Rape Culture Human Nature or Nurture?

In my formative years, a male counterpart stated that rape was part of the natural world. His claim was troubling on many levels. The most disconcerting was that his rationalization of a violent act was shared by others and normalized by laissez faire attitudes of civil institutions in general. The pervasiveness of violence against women seamlessly crosses borders and disregards economic statuses. From developing nations -- gang rapes in India, rape warfare in Africa -- to developed nations, with instances like fraternity rape parties in the U.S.
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I Was Groomed to Love Street Harassment

I grew up being catcalled. I was groomed to believe it was a compliment I should enjoy. Though it vibrated uncomfortable, I looked for it on days I felt especially unpretty. Women are told, not just by men, but by other women to lighten up. "Oh please! Someone whistles at you, roll with it; it's a compliment. Someone thinks you're hot!" Powerlessness is key here. Especially when our culture generally continues to see street harassment as a non-issue. 
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A Victory for Victims of Sexual Violence

Over the past several years, hundreds of Kenyan girls have gone to the police in the town of Meru to report that they had been raped. The officers responded with disbelief and refused to take action. In May 2013, the girls won a striking victory. In a landmark decision, the court ordered the police to enforce the rape laws and take action against the perpetrators.
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Violence Against Women: It's a Men's Issue

Violence against women is not solely a women's issue. Men play a key role in the solution to violence against women. The involvement of men is crucial to ending violence against women, yet it is not an easy task. Making ALL voices heard -- including those of men -- in the fight to end violence against women is a critical place to start.
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Why Canadians Should Reject The Russell Williams Crime Movie

This week, the American made-for-TV movie about the Russell Williams murders will make it Canadian television debut. An Officer and a Murderer is a movie only someone steeped in profit-motivated amnesia could make. It's sensationalistic. A pervasive kind of entertainment. It glorifies violence against Canadian women. It stains the good honour of Canadian women and men in uniform.

Consensual Rape and the Culture of Victim Blaming

This isn't the blog post I intended to write as my first contribution to Huffington Post Alberta. A lover of the arts, I wanted to be lightness and color, attempting--in my own way--to bring more much deserved attention to Calgary's burgeoning arts and culture scene. But then, things happen that derail me. Things like the 2013 Wimbledon women's champion--Marion Bartoli--being verbally assaulted online because she's "too ugly to win"(more on that later) and Marte Deborah Dalelv, of Norway, being acquitted of consensual rape following a business trip to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The War on Girls Starts in the Womb

Girls are too often subject to harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage, which increases their risk of maternal mortality or childbirth injury, HIV infection and domestic violence. Young women from marginalized social groups, girls living without their parents, and displaced girls are particularly vulnerable to violence.
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What Would You Do if Your Spouse Was Your Rapist?

This week, I had a drink with a very good friend. He's currently in a relationship with a wonderful woman whose ex-husband, the father of her children also happens to be the man who raped and brutally sodomized her for the last four years of their nine-year marriage. No one believed the story of her ordeal. No one in her family. Not one of her friends. Disbelief is a cruel after-effect of rape. It's also the trump card of the rapist. The burden is all too often placed on the victim, not the perpetrator. And when it's a spouse, he knows how to make the victim feel so worthless, guilty and low, that she'll avoid doing what is necessary.
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Rape Jokes on Facebook Aren't Funny, Zuckerberg

Are there no fathers working at Facebook? No brothers or husbands? Where are the men and why are they silent about a company policy that jokes about rape and violence against women are not wrong so long as they appear in the humour section? Allowing for rape jokes puts Facebook on the same level as all the other women-hating garbage out there in cyberspace. I can't image working for a company that would allow for something as sick as rape jokes. Not in my position. Not after seeing what rape did to my beautiful, talented daughter. I can still hear her cry and see the hurt on her face. Man to man, Mr. Zuckerberg, I need your help.
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Hope Is Greater Than Fear

The most dangerous time for an abused women is when she attempts to leave her abuser. And although Canada has more than 400 emergency shelters, in some communities women and their children are regularly turned away because the shelters are full.

Why Canadians Shouldn't Travel to India

My friend has written on her blog that the media is guilty of sensationalism in the coverage of rapes in India. I disagree with her assessment, however. The attention the media is giving to the rape epidemic in India is long, long overdue. Should you be scared? Not really. But ask, is India as safe to travel as anywhere else? The answer is no, it's not.
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Violence Against Women Does Not Discriminate

Within the last year tragedies of violence against women and girls have made headlines. Violence against women exists in places not only where the laws oppress us but also where they are supposed to protect us. It exists in the richest communities of the world and the poorest.

Don't Call Them "Women's" Issues

In order to achieve real change, women-focused policies and issues can't be segregated or lumped together where they so often end up marginalized on the sidelines of mainstream policy agendas. It's time we start taking a different approach from the traditional way of looking at issues affecting women.
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The Conservatives: Tough on Crime, Soft on Violence Against Women

Every six days a Canadian woman is killed by her partner. As of 2010, there were 582 known cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. Globally, one in three women will be a victim of violence -- being raped, beaten or abused in her lifetime. In some parts of the world a girl is more likely to be raped than to learn how to read. But women have taken a backseat to the government's other priorities.We could certainly be doing more to help women who are suffering from HIV/AIDS, which in many cases in the developing world results from rape.

Calgary's Big Stir Against Domestic Violence

They came together on a cold winter evening in Calgary just before the start of 2013. Two-hundred-and-fifty participants and more than 100 volunteers, chefs, performers and media personnel gathered at the Calgary Farmer's Market for a hands-on, soup-making blitz, the largest event of its kind ever held in Canada.

Still Don't Know What #IdleNoMore Is About? Here's a Cheat-Sheet

The #IdleNoMore Movement is not a new movement. Instead, it is the latest incarnation of the sustained Indigenous resistance to the rape, pillage and exploitation of this continent and its women that has existed since 1492. For those transfixed on race, you're missing the point. Please consider this a fairly exhaustive explanation of the #IdleNoMore movement, what it is not and what it is.
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India Gang-Rape Victim's Story: Sad but Common

In Punjab, India, a young teenager recently committed suicide by poisoning herself. Her story grabbed the world's attention initially when she was gang raped and left to die. As a victim, she went to make a complaint to the local authority and instead she was stonewalled. If her case seems to be an exception in the world, it unfortunately is not.
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National Inquiry On Missing, Murdered Women Not Best Answer

Waiting for the Canadian state to do something about violence is literally killing us, so I am not interested in participating in any delaying tactics or knowledge gathering for a state that clearly isn't listening. I want meaningful change and I want it now, and I don't think that's too much to ask for. Because my life and the lives of all women and girls are worth more than this.