Friday, September 26, 2008

Ottawa: Women Take Back the Night

Last night in Ottawa hundreds of women as well as some male supporters took to the streets to demand an end to violence against women. The event Take Back the Night has been running for 30 years now in opposition to to the lack of safety women had at night on the streets of Ottawa. Now thirty years on, the issue of violence against women still rages on in Ottawa and around the world.

The event was organized by the Women's Events Network, but included all forms of groups including student groups from Carleton University, University of Ottawa, Sexual Assault Support Groups, Homeless shelters, Immigrant Groups, Queer Rights groups, Pro-Choice groups and more. Both English and French communities were involved shouting chants in both official languages. The issue of looking at where women have come in thirty years was stressed, but also looking to the future.

Statistics about violence against women are still quite high. According to the Sexual Assault Support Center of Ottawa (SASC) 1 in 2 women have been sexually assaulted, 80-90% of women with disabilities are assaulted within their lifetime and, only 6% of sexual assaults are reported to police. Of those 6% of sexual assaults very few are found substantiated and go to trial, less then any other type of assault and, women are not treated with respect by the police.

The march started at the women's monument with a few speakers and went up Elgin to Wellington, into the market and, eventually to the University of Ottawa where entertainment, refreshments and, information was held. Responses from the public were mixed a few men along the way yelled offensive obsentities at the crowd, while other people joined the march, some people clapped or honked their horns, while other stood in confusion at the massive crowd. Chants were shouted such as "Women Unite! Take Back the Night", "La Rue, La Nuit, Les Femmes Sans Peur!" and, "Hey Mister, Get Your Hands off my Sister!" The mood was strong and, empowered in opposition to the violence that many women in the march had faced. They marched in solidarity into the night.

Note images are my property.

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