Challenging gendered violence

Take Back the Night group photo (Andreas Patsiaouros)

Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros

For Cassandra Mensah, society still has a long way to go in terms of dealing with gendered violence.
The third-year philosophy and women and gender studies student at Wilfrid Laurier University participated in the 31st annual Take Back the Night event on Sept. 25, and stressed the symbolism associated with the event.
Take Back the Night is a march and rally that addresses the rights of women, children and trans people to be safe without fear of violence. As a symbolic gesture, women at the event walked without being escorted by men.

“I haven’t experienced sexual assault, but I know a lot of people who have, so I [went] as an ally to support people who have experienced sexual assault,” Mensah said.

Heather Millard, a fellow student at Laurier, echoed the importance of Take Back the Night for students and women as a whole.

“I don’t like walking home at night and that says something,” she explained. “So, I think it’s good that we’re coming together as a community and standing up against this. Because even if it’s not going to do anything immediately, people are going to see it as something because we are all pushing back and we’re not going to let violence stop us from doing what we need to do.”

Both Mensah and Millard are members of Not My Laurier: Golden Hawks Combatting Gender Violence and the Centre for Women and Trans People.

Statistically, Mensah explained only 10 per cent of sexual assaults are ever reported, but the number of assaults that occur is much higher.

“When [women are] ages 18 to 24, they are more likely to experience sexual assault, but this issue isn’t just a women’s issue. It impacts everybody,” she said.

Millard explained events such as Take Back the Night help Waterloo residents, particularly Laurier students, promote awareness of incidents on campus and the surrounding area.

The walk — which extended from Kitchener City Hall down King Street, to Victoria Park and back — had about 300 participants.

While this may have disrupted the regular cycle of downtown Kitchener and the surrounding area, Millard said it’s good to disrupt normality.

“I’m sure [it irritated] them a little bit, but that’s good — that’s what we want,” she said. “We want to raise some kind of emotion towards people and that’s what’s going to get them to realize that this is an issue and it’s important.”

–With files from Andreas Patsiaouros

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