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Vigils creating awareness about violence towards women

Cheryl Browne

By Cheryl Browne, Barrie Examiner

Vigils will be held Friday, Dec. 5 to remember victims of the Montreal Massacre, and all victims of domestic violence.

Vigils will be held Friday, Dec. 5 to remember victims of the Montreal Massacre, and all victims of domestic violence.

As of last week, 28 Ontario women had lost their lives at the hands of violent men this year.

Since that statistic was released Nov. 26 by Huronia Transition Homes, another two women have died.

Toronto's Zahra Mohamoud Abdille, 43 and her two sons are believed to have been killed by her estranged husband who threw himself of a bridge onto the Don Valley Parkway on Saturday.

And Peterborough police were using a helicopter Thursday to try to find the body of Lise Fredette whose former boyfriend, Andrew Watson, 76, has been charged with her first-degree murder.

“It's not enough to remember the women who were murdered,” said Haily MacDonald, community development co-ordinator with Athena Sexual Assault Counselling & Advocacy Centre in Barrie. “What's really important is a call to action to help end violence against women.”

To that end, the province has sent out a detailed list of two dozen services and programs – announced in 2011 when it launched a $15 million sexual violence action plan – to engage organizations and increase education and public awareness about female abuse.

“Sexual violence and harassment is a reality in every community in this province. In every workplace, every campus, every context, we can and must do better,” said Premier Kathleen Wynne.

And yet, the Women and Children's Shelter of Barrie reports that every six days a Canadian woman is killed by her partner.

As Dec. 6 approaches, we're once again reminded that 25 years ago, one man, Marc Lépine, 25, shot 28 people, killing 14 women at École Polytechnique in Montreal before killing himself.

Lépine didn't know the women, the suicide note he left said he just didn't like feminists.

A total of 100 women and 50 children have taken shelter at Barrie's women's shelter this year alone.

Both Athena and the shelter are holding vigils, not only in memory of the École Polytechnique massacre, but for all women abused by men in their lives.

To mark the National Day of Remembrance & Action on Violence Against Women, the shelter is meeting tonight at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 93 Berczy St. at 6 p.m. for an hour-long vigil. People are asked to wear purple in support of women who have suffered abuse.

On Saturday, La Maison Rosewood Shelter in Midland is holding its vigil from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Midland Town Hall.

“Collectively, we have the power to be the change we want in the world, and collectively we can end misogyny and sexism, ultimately leading us to a world free of violence,” Kathy Willis of Huronia Transition Homes said.

This week, Wynne has asked all provincial ministers to explore ways to improve support for victims of sexual violence and harassment. In addition, she has directed specific ministers to find ways to enhance support for victims of sexual violence relating to the criminal justice system, policing, health care, education, post-secondary campuses and Ontario workplaces.

Work in these areas will begin immediately, according to Wynne who wants an action plan brought forward by International Women's Day on March 8, 2015.

WOMEN ASSAULTED

  • 67% of all Canadians say they personally know at least one woman who has been sexually or physically assaulted.
  • On any given day in Canada, more than 3,300 women (along with their 3,000 children) are forced to sleep in an emergency shelter to escape domestic violence.
  • Every night, about 200 women are turned away because the shelters are full.

 

 

cheryl.browne@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/cherylbrowne1

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