This has been a difficult week for women in the city of Toronto. Our safe city has been plagued by a rash of sexual assaults in believed to be safe areas. Four more sexual assault victims came forward on Friday, bringing the total to 10 victims in the Annex and Kensington market area. Some of the assaults took place at Bloor and Christie, right down the street from my work. Eight of the assaults are thought to be one man. A woman in Parkdale was sexually assaulted after the perpetrator broke into her home, later this week as well.
This this is pretty disturbing stuff. But what has shocked me is the response to the whole situation. Dare I beat a dead horse by saying the whole halabaloo was kicked into full gear by Krista Ford’s twitter comments:
“Stay alert, walk tall, carry mace, take self-defence classes & don’t dress like a whore,”
Yes, she’s the niece of our Mayor, Rob Ford and daughter of city councillor Doug Ford. Sure it was a dumb thing to say. I was pretty shocked when I read that comment and then found out she is only 21. Young people can now broadcast 24 hours a day, and once it’s out there, it’s got a permanent record, whether you delete the post or not.
OK, so this comment, as I mentioned was stupid. But I think what has many women up in arms is that this keeps happening. Last year, Constable Michael Sanguinetti spoke to a group of female students at Osgoode Hall Law school, advising the women not to dress like sluts, inspiring a movement of “Slut Walks”. He later wrote an apology:
“I made a comment which was poorly thought out and did not reflect the commitment of the Toronto Police Service to the victims of sexual assault . . . Violent crimes such as sexual assaults can have a traumatizing effect on their victims. . . . My comment was hurtful in this respect.”
American congressman Todd Akin doesn’t support abortion, even in cases of rape as he concludes, “If it’s a legitimate rape,” he said, “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” He said all of this without any legitimate evidence, of course. In truth, approximately 5% of rapes result in pregnancy or in the US, about 32, 000 per year. I can‘t find Canadian figures, but I’m sure you get the idea.
The majority of rape victims know their assailant, and as much as 80% of all rapes take place in the home. What is getting the most ire from the public, is the so called “stranger rape”. It is really quite rare, but in no way should women be told how to conduct themselves in order to prevent being raped.
Many posters on Huffingting Post and Toronto Star websites are in disagreement over what a woman should and shouldn’t do, or more importantly wear. Clearly, a woman can just as likely be rape wearing a burka as she can wearing a string bikini. It really depends on the context.
So what I would like to recommend is that as citizens of the city of Toronto, not accept this type of violence in our city. Let’s say no to this type of assault, not blame the women for being a victim, but come together as a community to ensure our streets are safe from harm.