They died because they were women
This year marks the 29th anniversary of the murder of 14 women at l’Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal by an anti-feminist man. On December 6th we commemorate these victims by observing a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, informally known as White Ribbon Day. The White Ribbon campaign began in 1991 by men who pledged to never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women and girls.
According to Stats Can, violent crime against women occurs 5% more often than men, however women are 11 times more likely to be sexually victimized. Gender-based violence is perpetrated against a person based on their gender identity, their gender expression, or their perceived gender. It impacts women and girls and disproportionately, gender non-binary and LGBTQ2 individuals. In Canada, women living in the territories experience violence at a rate 8 times higher than those living in the provinces (Status of Women Canada). As with any type of violence, it is most often inflicted upon those who are vulnerable but it is important to recognize that gender-based violence affects not only those who are abused and those who inflict the abuse. From cyber-bullying to sex trafficking, gender-based violence is a societal issue that affects families, communities, everyone.
In these days of outspoken racial and gender violence, silence needs to be seen as a form of consent. Violence against women is not a women’s issue, just as racism is not a problem for indigenous and people of colour to solve. We all need to recognize our role in tearing down white supremacy and misogynistic gender roles, especially those of us who inhabit white male bodies.