Here’s why you should join the women’s march
When you are small, a lot doesn’t make sense. But then, time and education pull back the lens, bring things into focus, and mysteries are suddenly made clear.When I was young, my mom put up with things that didn’t make sense. She tolerated things that I couldn’t comprehend, including physical assault. Fights that started over dirty dishes culminated in fists.My sister and I breathed shallowly when voices were raised. We would slip into the same bunk, cuddling instead of sleeping, while fights exploded outside our door, waiting to see if this would be just a screaming match, or worse. As a kid, I couldn’t understand how violence could stem from such triviality.During one particularly bad fight, I slipped into the closet and called the police. They arrived and took statements. They told us the perpetrator would not be arrested. However, my mom, sister and I had to leave. If we couldn’t find a host, we would be moved to a shelter, which is what happened. We stayed for a few days.My memories of those times remain bittersweet. It was clean. Staff were fantastic. But we spent our days behind heavy, locked doors, and cameras abounded. We weren’t allowed to be alone, ever. We had to record our departure and arrival times. While I am grateful for this space and the wonderful women who ran it, I couldn’t understand why a man who assaulted my mother was allowed back at home, while we were effectively locked up.Then, about a week later, we moved back home with her assailant. Something, again, that my child’s mind couldn’t comprehend.However, while we age, we learn. ThingsHalf of women in Canada have experienced violence.become contextualized, and our adult minds grasp an understanding. As I learned about domestic abuse, I learned that, from the moment I was born, I was at risk of domestic violence exposure. My mother, a single, low-income parent, gave birth to me when she was very young. Low-income women are at higher risk of domestic violence, at times staying in abusive relationships in order to keep their families sheltered and fed. My mom valued independence. In her mind, it was better to subject herself to blows than to live in a shelter. And, an abusive partner allowed her to split the bills, leaving space in her budget to buy us winter boots. As an adult, I started to understand.Gender-based violence remains an epidemic around the world and in Canada. Half of women in Canada have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 16, and 67 per cent of Canadians say they have personally known at least one woman who has experienced physical or sexual abuse. Gender-based violence disproportionally affects LGBTQ, Indigenous, immigrant and disabled women.Approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her partner, according to the Canadian Women’s Foundation.On any given night in Canada, 3,491 women and their 2,724 children sleep in shelters because it isn’t safe at home and about 300 women and children are turned away because shelters are already full. Shelters for violence against women and family shelters in Ottawa are over-capacity. The city’s dialogue on strategies for ending this shortfall remains non-existent.Gender-based violence must stop. It’s time to stand together and demand action to make real change and make home and society safer for women. On Saturday, at 11 a.m., Women’s March Ottawa will come together to raise our voices to say “enough” to gender-based violence. We will march in concert with millions of women around the globe to shine a spotlight on gender-based violence.As an adult, I understand better that abuse was not a circumstance just in our home, but an example of a widespread issue affecting many Canadian homes.Because, when you’re small, a lot of the world doesn’t make sense. But now, as an adult, having educated myself and put things into perspective, I find it makes even less sense that gender-based violence remains unchecked in society at large.Join us in saying “no more” to gender-based violence.
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