Monthly Archives: June 2016

Taking Back the Night

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by Kiran Dhingra, MSW, RSW, Executive Director

As I write these words, it is a few days after the Take Back the Night march that took place in our community last Friday June 10th, 2016.  The event was organized from a ground swell of supporters in response to a woman who had recently been sexually assaulted in the community.   I know that we like to think that violence, especially sexual crimes don’t happen here on this beautiful island paradise. Of course, we know that’s simply not true.

It is a sad reality that not everyone is safe on this Island.  Many of us, especially women and children are at greater risk of having violence perpetrated against us, usually by someone we already know, although not always.  Sometimes it’s a stranger or someone we hardly know at all.  My hope is that everyone will feel safe in our community as that is a right we all deserve.

That is why SWOVA, has been working toward eliminating violence through prevention and education programs that empower our young people for the past 20 years.  SWOVA was born out of a terrible act of violence toward a woman in the community that happened in the early 90s.  At that time, community came together because it wanted to help and do something to support the woman who had been assaulted, but also because it knew that there were other women out there who needed a safe haven; a place they could go to start healing.

So, my mind comes back to this most recent act of violence.  Only with the survivor’s strength and courage to speak out about what happened, and her desire to find a way to take back the night, are we reminded yet again of the impact and importance of the issue of violence against women right here on Salt Spring Island.

There is tremendous power in that act of courage, as well as in all the people who organized, attended, marched, cried, got angry, and made calls for change and awareness.  SWOVA stands with you and supports you.  In closing, I share these words, written by poet and author, Maya Angelou,maya-angelous-words-wisdom-0_240x340_11

“Having courage does not mean that we are unafraid. 

Having courage and showing courage means we face our fears. 

We are able to say, “I have fallen, but I will get up.”

Privilege

 

Since starting my work as a Peace Kids and Respectful Relationships Facilitator AND engaging in awareness about gender-based violence I have come to learn a lot about privilege. I have long felt privileged but I had never understood it like I do now (this in itself is a result of being privileged). As a caucasian cisgender* male, growing up in a fairly wealthy family, being well of body, and Canadian, I am able to check off most of the boxes that designate me with privilege in the world as it currently exists.

The world is not an equal one for all (though in my heart of hearts I wish that it could be and it should be). I liken privilege to that of currents in water that make it easier for some and harder for others to move. Unless one experiences going against the current it is impossible to know what it is like. The only way to gain understanding is to ask those who might be experiencing “going against the current”. Ask those who are cis-female or identify as non-heterosexual, people of colour, not as able-bodied, or those who live in cultures other than “mainstream Western culture” if they experience the world as equal. They may share their story. Listen well and ride out any discomfort you may feel. It is well worth the effort.

*Cisgender: (often abbreviated to simply cis) is a term for people whose experiences of their own gender agree with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Photo Credit: University of San Francisco