In a presentation room inside the downtown YWCA Wednesday evening, a conversation on gender-based violence is the central conversation between over two-dozen attendees. As the number of sexual misconduct allegations continue to pour in, White Ribbon launched a new guide to help children learn more about sexual violence prevention.
“It’s very prevalent, it’s happening in every industry,” said Anne McGlynn with White Ribbon. “I don’t think there’s ever been a more critical time to have a conversation and see a real change take place.”
White Ribbon, an international movement that targets men and young boys to end violence against women, says their organization has seen an increase in demand. Particularly since the viral popularity of the #MeToo campaign, which denounced sexual assault, violence and harassment through social media. The hashtag began trending in response to the slew of sexual misconduct allegations coming out of Hollywood.
White Ribbon Stats
460,000 Sexual assaults in Canada every year
Out of every 1,000:
- 33 are reported to Police
- 29 are reported as a crime
- 12 have charges laid. Six are prosecuted
- 997 assailants walk free
- 3 lead to convictions
90% of sexual assault and sexual victims are women
- Majority occur to women under the age of 24
The global movement, also widely known for getting men and boys to take a pledge to end violence against women, also notes there’s been an increase of men who’ve taken that commitment.
“A lot of men in particular are surprised, but women have been saying it for a long time,” McGlynn explains. “It’s been difficult for men to see the scale of the problem, they don’t experience it themselves day-to-day oftentimes, so I think it’s been a bit of a revelation and it’s called for a little bit of a gut check, a little bit of self-reflection and a little bit of understanding of what their role can be.”
Wednesday’s event also unveiled new resources developed to help the province’s educators incorporate sexual violence prevention into the conversation at school. Two guide books have been developed for educators, one geared towards grades one to eight and a second for high school students. The books were a partnership between White Ribbon, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation. They provide learning material aimed at educating students on gender equality, relationship and preventing sexual violence.
“Helping educators to know how to direct their students through that kind of learning, what consent is, the different spectrum of gender, how to understand, how to be an active bystander,” said McGlynn.
The unveiling of the interactive campaign featured speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds, including the province’s Minister of the Status of Women, who tells CityNews awareness at a young age is key.
“There is absolutely research out there that shows public awareness does a lot to reduce sexual harassment and violence, no question,” said Indira Naidoo-Harris, Minister of the Status of Women. “The awareness of the issue and making sure that our young people out there are able to think about what they’re doing and the impacts of their action, definitely deters the ability and the possibility of sexual violence and harassment.”
The event is part of White Ribbon’s 16 Days of Activism, a United Nations global campaign to end violence against women and girls around the world. This year’s theme for the awareness campaign, which started on November 25 and will go until December 10, is ‘Leave No one Behind: End Violence against women and girls’.
Throughout this international effort, White Ribbon plans to be active in raising awareness, educating the public and doing outreach work. In addition to Wednesday night’s events, White Ribbon will be hosting a series of events discussing the topic.
The ‘Drawing the Line on Sexual Violence’ guide can be downloaded here.