For a few weeks now, I have been highly bothered by an advertisement/public service announcement.  Most of you will not have seen this advertisement since it’s on Canadian TV.

Let me set the scene:

There are about a dozen attractive well-dressed women laughing & joking in a room decorated with pink balloons & streamers.  You can immediately identify this as a baby shower for a girl.  There are a number of gifts & the camera follows a well wrapped gift being passed to a lovely young woman.  When the gift is opened the woman pulls out a whistle & looks questioningly at the women around her.  An older, stately woman identifies the gift as a rape whistle.  All the women in the room look uncomfortable & the screen fades to black with the statistic of “1 in 2 Canadian women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime.”  The message is brought to you by Canadian Women’s Foundation.  If you would like to know more about this subject, please click on the link.  Here are just a few statistics most people may not know from the Canadian Women’s Foundation website:

  • In just one year in Canada, 427,000 women over the age of 15 reported they had been sexually assaulted.  Since only about 10% of all sexual assaults are reported to the police, the actual number is much higher.
  •  Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.
  • 61% of all Canadians say they personally know at least one woman who has been sexually or physically assaulted.

WHAT IS VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN?

The United Nations defines violence against women 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.”

WHAT CAUSES VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN?

  • The roots of violence are founded in the belief that the needs, feelings, or beliefs of one person or group are more correct or more important than those of another person or group. This fundamental inequality creates a rationale for humiliation, intimidation, control, abuse—even murder.
  • In our society, gender inequality is visible in many areas, including politics, religion, media, cultural norms, and the workplace. Both men and women receive many messages—both blatant and covert—that men are more important than women. In this context, it becomes easier for a man to believe that he has the right to be in charge and to control a woman, even if it takes violence. Over 80% of victims of dating violence are female.
  • Almost 60% of all dating violence happens after the woman has broken off the relationship.
  • Violence against women happens in all cultures and religions, in all ethnic and racial communities, at every age, and in every income group.
  • Young women are especially at risk. 66% of all female victims of sexual assault are under the age of twenty-four, and 11% are under the age of eleven.  60% of women with a disability experience some form of violence.

I am a part of these statistics, in that I have been sexually assaulted twice, both times I was under 22.  One of these assaults was a date rape which occurred when I tried to break off the relationship & the other was a stranger assault.  I did not report the date rape.  The attempted rape took place at 8:00 a.m. on my way to work.  Although I was strongly discouraged from reporting it by male co-workers, I did report this to the police.  Both of these assaults have had a profound effect on my relationships with men.  I have never told any member of my family about this.

The reason this commercial/announcement has had such an effect on me was I had hoped things were getting better for women.  I had hoped with more equalization in the work place & women earning their own money & not being dependent on their spouses, this statistic would have been lower now.  I think we still have a long way to go.  What do you think?

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