President’s Message: Ending Violence Against Women

At the beginning of August I had the opportunity to attend our National AGM with two other BPW Saskatoon Members and it was an incredible experience.  I was also asked to give a presentation on Ending Violence Against Women as the National Chairperson.  I was honoured to speak with them not only because I am such a strong advocate on this topic but because it has affected me personally.  I am mentioning this here today because we have a very important rally coming up.

BPW Saskatoon is partnering with GRAN Advocacy Network to bring you the 2017 Orange Rally UNiTE to end Violence against Women and Girls on Friday November 24th at 5:30pm at the Civic Square in front of City Hall.  We are asking that you wear something Orange to show your support.  I thought I would share some of my presentation with you today to bring to light why this rally is so important.

Why is violence against women still an issue, why are we are still talking about it?

Violence against women and girls continues to be an issue on a local, national and global scale.  For today’s presentation I will be focusing on Canada specifically to highlight why we still need to make ending violence against women a priority in our country.

Here are some quick statistics:

  • Women are 11x more likely than men to be sexually victimized
  • Women are 3x more likely to be stalked
  • Women are twice as likely to be the victim of indecent/harassing phone calls, emails and texts

Studies have shown that Indigenous women are more likely to be victims of violence because they are more likely to suffer from poverty, be marginalized and are therefore considered more vulnerable than non-Indigenous women.  Indigenous women are 4x more likely to be a victim of violence than non-Indigenous women.

Chances are that there is a woman you know who has experienced violence but you don’t know she has because it is one of the most underreported crimes in Canada.  It is assumed that up to 70% of violence against women is not reported to the police.

Who does this violence affect?

This type of violence has many effects for the woman experiencing it. Along with the immediate physical and emotional impacts of violence, a woman’s overall quality of life can be adversely affected over an entire lifetime, which can, in turn, impact their participation and engagement in various aspects of life and society. In fact research has found that self-medicating is the one method most used by women to deal with their victimization.

However violence against women doesn’t just affect the woman experiencing it.

It affects the children and extended family who may witness it – leading them to believe that this is an acceptable practice.  This contributes to the cycle of abuse, it teaches children that it is okay to abuse  others or to be abused themselves.  When extended family witnesses the abuse or knows of it and does nothing it increases the woman’s belief that she is to suffer alone and no one is there to help her.  At the same time family feels helpless to stop it. Feelings of guilt and shame surround the family not just the woman experiencing it.

What can be done to help?

Each and every individual has the power to eradicate violence against girls and women by supporting and empowering women and men, boys and girls to take a stand.

By volunteering and supporting women’s organizations; we allow them to continue their services for women, who experience abuse or violence.  I have a friend who is a doctor who keeps pamphlets on domestic abuse and rape in her exam rooms so that it is a safe place to take one in private…away from prying eyes.

By sharing our stories…it may save one life.  If we no longer hide the truth about violence against women we can no longer ignore it.  And women who know they are not alone are more likely to report it.

By joining us at the Orange Rally on November 24th.  We will hear from various speakers in Saskatoon regarding this issue but you will also learn about ways in which we can help to end this.

I hope to see you there.

Caval Olson-Lepage

President, BPW Saskatoon