Take Back the Night held its annual walk downtown on Sept. 17 with a goal, “To raise awareness about issues of sexual assault and violence” stated Kim Bright, one of the women involved in organizing the event, and as a coordinator of the Niagara Region Sexual Assault and Violence Centre.
When asked about the walk’s role in the community, Bright remarked that, “The event has become an expectation and that speaks volumes to the awareness level of the event in the last 34 years”.
“It exists and it always will keep growing each year,” said Bright, reaffirming just how important and culturally relevant events like this are.
People who showed up to the event on Thursday were in for a night filled with live music, inspirational speakers as well as a candle light walk to help raise awareness for ending violence towards women.
“Ever since the accusations against former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi for sexual misconduct at his workplace and in his personal life surfaced a year ago, the issue of sexual violence against women has been in the news across the country,” said Donna Christie, a spokesperson for the Niagara Region Sexual Assault Centre in an interview with Niagara This Week.
Currently, 90 per cent of women say they have experienced sexual harassment on the job, although many of these cases go unreported for fear of reprisal, affirmed Christie. Men are also faced with a growing amount of sexual harassment and are even less likely to report cases.
“Allegations of sexual harassment in the Canadian military, misogynist comments by dental students at Dalhousie University on a Facebook page, and vulgar remarks made by men during live broadcasts by female television reporters show how widespread and pervasive this problem is in society,” stated Christie.“My hope is that we will get to the point where we understand that the word ‘no’ really is a complete sentence and that it is not OK to assume anything based on what a person does, wears or says”.
At the event, speakers included Suzanne Mason from the Niagara Regional Sexual Assault Centre, as well as various other women who shared their experience’s about sexual harassment and how it has impacted their lives. Among other topics discussed were how to raise awareness about sexual harassment as well as strategies for coping with sexual harassment and how bystanders can get involved in ending sexual violence.
Mason touched on her experiences as a young journalist, stating that anyone who faces unwanted comments or touching, has to be vigilant by recording dates and times of the specific incidents, as well as reporting it to the proper authorities and if it is not taken seriously, to file a human rights complaint.
“Everybody deserves to be treated with respect no matter who they are or where they are,” said Mason.
Also present at the event were, Precious Omoruyi, Rachel Easterbrook and Bader, who touched on personal experience’s they had as members of the LGTB community.
The event came to a close with a roll call and a moment of silence for Niagara’s sex trade workers, followed by the lighting of candles.