Ordinarily a number of events mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, however with all public gatherings cancelled for health reasons, this has gone under the radar this year.
The 16 days surround Dec. 6, which forever in Canada marks the day in 1989 that a gunman on an anti-feminist rampage walked into an engineering class at École Polytechnique in Montreal, separated the women from the men, and murdered 14 of those women. He killed them because they were women.
We are now in the midst of a trial for another man who is accused of renting a van and deliberately driving into pedestrians in Toronto on April 23, 2018, killing 10, and injuring 16. He is accused of targeting women.
These high-profile incidents of violence against women are merely the most visible signs of an insidious thread that remains woven into our society. Women disproportionately face being victims of physical and sexual assaults, while the vast majority of victims of domestic violence are also women. Domestic violence, in particular, is often hidden behind closed doors, with women enduring physical, sexual, emotional and verbal abuse for years.
Chances are you know a woman who has been touched by violence. In this way violence against women touches all of our lives, and diminishes our communities, by silencing voices through intimidation and fear — and sometimes the ultimate violence of death.
In these times of physical distancing, one of the things we can do to mark the occasion and stand in solidarity with those in the trenches of the fight, such as Cowichan Women Against Violence Society, is to put up purple lights. Purple is used to symbolize courage, honour and healing.
We’ve come a long way in making violence against women socially unacceptable. Largely gone are the days when people thought it was OK to ask a sexual assault victim what she was wearing, and a woman beaten up by her husband what she had done to provoke him. But we still have a long way to go, and we all need to stand in solidarity to get there.