The 16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM AGAINST GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women until December 10, Human Rights Day is a global campaign coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership.
In support of this program, Zonta International launched the Zonta Says No to Violence Against Women campaign in 2012, raising awareness of the global pandemic of women’s rights violations. Zonta clubs around the world undertake activities to educate the public on the issues and to work towards prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.
Around the world, orange is used during these 16 days to highlight efforts to eliminate violence against women. In Waterloo Region the lights on King Street in Waterloo and the Cambridge sign at Cambridge City Hall have been lit in orange for a few nights during this time as these cities show their support for eliminating gender-based violence. This past November we gathered at Waterloo Public Square on November 25 to hear latest statistics from the police service and from Women’s Crisis Services before we walked the orange-lit streets.
Statistics have indicated that our three cities in Waterloo Region are on the bottom of the ranking as Canadian cities that are safe for women. The rates of sexual assault and intimate partner violence reported to police in the three cities in Waterloo Region were among the highest in large Canadian cities.
Between 2016 and 2020 violent crime related to intimate partner violence increased dramatically in our region.
Within that category of violence, in the 4 years 2016 – 2020,
• common assaults increased approx. 37%,
• assaults with a weapon increased approx. 57%
• assaults where bodily harm was caused by the offender increased approx. 92%
We each must do our part to try to alleviate any situation that might become violent, intervening only if it safe to do so. Simply asking if someone needs help might prevent a violent action.
This signal for help was first promoted by the Canadian Women’s Foundation as a way for a woman to signal online that she needs help. Since this signal has been become more widely known, it has been used to rescue an abducted teen, to help a youngster in a violent home and other situations that have not been publicized widely. It is a simple gesture that an individual can use – we all must be alert to pick up the signal.