Tagged: violence against women

Dec 6 Vigil – please join us

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

We invite everyone to attend a

Candlelight Vigil

Centennial Park

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017 


To honour and remember all women who have been killed by violence. We will meet at the Memorial Monument just before 4:30. Members of the public are invited to witness, listen to readings/poetry and song and share your own words as the spirit moves you.

Sponsored by:

SWOVA Community Development & Research Society

**Please share!**

Results: Southern Gulf Islands Survey on Consent and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response

During the month of May in 2016, a community wide survey was launched throughout the Southern Gulf Islands on Consent and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. The survey was funded by the Status of Women Canada as part of an on-going project spear headed by Salt Spring Women Opposed to Violence and Abuse (SWOVA) Community Development and Research Society.

A summary version of the survey results is found here:
SGI Consent & Sexual Assault Project Survey Results InfoGraphic

You can find the full report here.


Consent by Lynda Laushway

consent image


Consent is a big topic in the news these days. What constitutes consent to sexual activity? When and how is consent given? How do we misinterpret consent? These are some of the topics in the news and on many peoples’ minds. This is particularly true for university and college campuses across Canada as our young people head to school in what we hope will be safe environments for them.



The Canadian Women’s Foundation (CWF) in Toronto has published results from a survey they did on consent. Some of the results are quite startling:

67% of all Canadians say they personally know at least one womanwho has been sexually or physically assaulted.

  • 10% of Canadians incorrectly believe that consent is not required between spouses or long-term partners.
  • 21% of people between 18 and 34 incorrectly believe sending an explicit photo, textor email counts as consent.
  • 96% agree that sexual activity must be consensual, two-thirds (67%) do not fully understand how to properly give or get it.

CWF has a clear definition of consent: “Sexual consent is a two-way exchange: it’s an ongoing process of giving and getting permission. This means showing—in words and actions—that you freely agree to participate in a sexual activity. This means continuing to give your permission throughout the sexual encounter. You can revoke your consent at any time.”

Though these may be complicated waters for our youth to navigate it is important that they understand consent and do not leave themselves open to anything other than mutual agreement, freely given, in their sexual activities. This is an important part of having a healthy and respectful relationship.


By Lynda Laushway, consultant


Why Focus on Gender-based Violence? by Lynda Laushway


There is a lot of violence in our world and it takes many forms- men’s violence towards other men, violence perpetrated on children, violence directed at seniors, violence against lesbian, gay and transgendered people, and violence against women, to name some of the more prevalent forms. The motivations for violence are many and complex and may include power and control, greed, jealousy, rage, fear, racism, homophobia and mental disorders.

Violence is a big problem in our world and everyday people are hurt and suffer because of it. It is overwhelming to think about trying to prevent violence in all its forms.  At SWOVA we have chosen to focus on one part of the violence spectrum and that is on gender-based violence. It is one part among many that can make our world a safer place. If many of us assume a part in preventing violence, our collective impact can be truly significant.

SWOVA chose gender-based violence prevention because we felt compelled to make a difference in this area.  According to the United Nations, “Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. It knows no social, economic or national boundaries. Worldwide, an estimated one in three women will experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime.”

Gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence. Victims of violence can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, traumatic fistula, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death.”

Preventing violence in all forms is important to us at SWOVA.  Let’s all do our part and together we can make a difference.


By Lynda Laushway – SWOVA Consultant


Crime Costs, Prevention Pays by lynda laushway


Canada is spending billions of dollars each year on police, courts and corrections. In the past 10 years these costs have increased by 50 percent. These costs do not include the human suffering to individuals and families. Investment in preventing crime is a wiser use of our money.

In 2009 in Canada, women self-reported 472,000 sexual assaults according to the General Social Survey, Statistics Canada. The problem of spousal violence is not declining – similar rates of spousal violence were reported from 1999 to 2009.

A recent news release from Dr. Irvin Waller, Professor, Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa states that Canadian studies emphasize the effectiveness of preventing violence against women.

The social return on investment from pre-crime prevention is significant. Most recently, a number of Canadian studies emphasize the effectiveness of preventing violence against women. The evidence is clear from a number of gender-based prevention program results across Canada that changing the behaviour of males significantly reduces sexual assaults.

There are hopeful signs that the investment in Canadian crime prevention programs is paying off.


By Lynda Laushway – Consultant to SWOVA

Human Trafficking – By Kevin Vowles

trafficking image





It has been said that “Rape is one of the most terrible crimes on earth and it happens every few minutes.  The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves.   What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape.  Go to the source and start there.”  Kurt Cobain.

When I saw this quote I was heartened to know that one of my childhood musical influences was outspoken on a subject, which has long driven me to work in the violence prevention field.  As I have said before I have known many women in my life affected by this most egregious form of gender-based violence.  The basis of all violence is a lack of empathy, concern, entitlement to harm, and lack of consent.

Of course we know that there are thousands of missing women in this country, many of who may be being held against their will.  They are kidnapped each year by men and are of course likely being subjected to rape on an on-going basis.

What makes me feel more outright rage though are the vast numbers of women and girls being trafficked each and every year.  When I mention human trafficking in circle work, people often think I am referring to women and girls being brought in from Eastern Europe, Africa, or Asia.  In fact, the majority of victims in Canada are Canadians.  The average age of a girl is trafficked is 13, and the reason that girls are vulnerable is because they have left home because of violence.  Violence begets violence.  I can scarcely think of a crime other than murder, which is more horrendous for a young girl to experience.  Rape is torture.  For girls and women confined against their will by pimps, daily life is surely hell.  Many become addicted to drugs to soothe the pain of the on-going violation of their bodies.

Globally there are nearly 30 million people being trafficked and held against their will, through more than 460 known trafficking routes.  58% of trafficking globally is for sexual slavery.  75% of the victims of human trafficking are women and girls.  98% of victims for the purposes of sexual slavery are women and girls.  99% of the pimps are men, and in Canada they are profiting to the tune of $280,000 per female in their possession.  There are over 2,000,000 children enslaved sexually globally, and the global sexual slavery trade is a 99 billion dollar industry.

So, what can we do?  We can teach men not to rape and that women are not property.  But how is this going to influence a swiftly spiraling out of control problem? As Ghandhi said with regards to peace, we must start with the children.  We must inspire the next generation to become activists against this most terrible of human rights abuses.  We must educate about systemic global violence, and there can be no better place to start than with human trafficking.


By Kevin Vowles, R+R Facilitator





Gender Based Violence as Exemplified by Tugce Albayrak – by Kevin Vowles


There’s a lot of big stuff going on right now, that as my colleague at the Canadian Women’s Foundation, Diane Hill, noted recently are watershed moments.  From Jian Ghomeshi and our MPs, to conversations about what consent really means, reporting violations, and an overall renewed enthusiasm for discussion of gender based violence as a whole, we are living in a remarkable time.  I call it peak-awareness in conversation with people.  We are reaching a state of heightened awareness about gender-based violence.

A group I’m working with at Royal Roads University notes: “The United Nations defines Gender Based Violence as: “Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”  (www.studentsagainstviolence.ca)

Of course gender based violence is not the only thing we should be talking about.  Men experience war, physical violence from other men, homophobia, risky and unrealistic gender norms and expectations, and sometimes violence from other women.  Hell, there’s been a rash of male teenage hockey players in the USA being molested by their friends’ moms.  Boys do get molested by women and men.  However, the difference lies in power.  Gender based violence is based on one person having significant power over another.

Nowhere is this more evident, and nowhere is the need for the conversation more evident, than the case of Tugce Albayrak in Germany.  Tugce intervened in a washroom where men were harassing teenage girls.  She showed bravery and courage, as she became an active by-stander that day.  The men left the washroom and the girls, but they did not forget, and one of them proceeded to beat her into a coma in the parking lot, allegedly with a baseball bat.   She subsequently died.

As I sat with SWOVA’s youth team I expressed feeling upset and disheartened by this.  I asked youth to talk about things that upset them, in an effort to allow them to show tears and grief, because we know that if we keep it bottled up it’s going to negatively impact us.  I also asked them “if they could be a superhero who would they be?”  Most youth spoke of batman, spiderman and superman.  I’ve asked this question before and it’s a fairly typical response.  When it came around to me, I said I’d be a superhero that stops gender-based violence.  Of course Tugce Albayrak was that superhero that fateful day in McDonald’s.

Standing up for what is right is never an easy thing and she paid the ultimate price for her courage and bravery.  She paid the ultimate price for standing up to sexism and objectification and harassment.  She paid the price and now we must have the conversation about being a by-stander and the risks entailed with that.  She’s a true hero and she allows us to peel back the onion one more layer; to dive a little deeper and hopefully create the dialogue needed to create empathy, compassion and a vision of a future where all people can be free of the threat of violence.

by Kevin Vowles, R+R Facilitator


SWOVA empowering youth for a better tomorrow

Twenty-five Years Later- Remembering the Montreal Massacre on December 6th – by Lynda Laushway

DSC_0004Twenty-five years ago on December 6th, a 25-year-old man walked into École Polytechnique, an engineering school in Montreal Quebec, carrying a Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle and a hunting knife. He walked into a classroom on the second floor, and asked that the men and women separate to different sides of the room. He then asked the men to leave the room. Nine women were left behind. He said, in French, that they were all feminists, and then shot all of the women in the room- six died from their injuries.

He then went to other parts of the school, shooting as he went. A total of 14 women died that day, and fourteen others were injured (10 women and four men). He then turned the gun on himself.

The women murdered that day were all young students, at school studying to become engineers. They thought that they had their whole lives and careers ahead of them. This was the first shooting of its type in Canada, and a direct act of violence not only against women, but against the feminist movement.

Two days after the shooting, part of the shooter’s suicide note was released. On it was a list of 19 women’s names. Before listing them, he wrote, in French, “The lack of time (because I started too late) has allowed these radical feminists to survive.”  His list included a series of seemingly random women, some more known than others, from politicians to female police officers. It also included Francine Pelletier, a journalist who co-founded a feminist magazine called La Vie en Rose in the ‘80s and worked at La Presse newspaper at the time.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of this event, which has become known as the “Montreal Massacre.” Dec. 6th is also now the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, in order to pay homage those who died that day and to raise awareness to prevent violence against women.

In this the 25th anniversary year of this horrible act of violence, numerous women have brought forth allegations of violence by two high profile men- Jian Gomeshi and Bill Cosby. These well-publicized allegations have once again raised the profile of the extent and seriousness of violence against women and taken it out of the secrecy where it often hides. Our media is abuzz with coverage of these allegations but time will tell if the current profile of violence against women will create lasting positive change in our society.

The Ritual of Remembering has been held each year since the first anniversary of this tragic event and sadly, we must continue to acknowledge the ongoing acts of violence that are a daily reality for women in our province and country.

We hope you will stand in solidarity with us against gender-based violence.


 On Saturday, Dec. 6, at 6 pm, a candlelight vigil will be held in Centennial Park, Ganges to honour of the women who died on that day 25 years ago.


Cathy Ford will be present at the vigil to read from her new poem, Flowers We Will Never Know the Names Of.  The poem marks the 25th anniversary of the murders of fourteen women students at Montreal’s L’École Polytechnique, on December 6, 1989, a history-changing event.  It is an incantation, a chant, a protest, memento mori, an invocation, a prayer for peace organized in fourteen sections.

The choir Women of Note will sing.

Hot refreshments will be available.

All are welcome at the vigil.

Please join us.


Lynda Laushway – Executive Director, SWOVA



SWOVA – Empowering Youth for a Better Tomorrow