Violence against women

Over the past few months, we have been bombarded with words and images describing and depicting the disturbing acts that some aberrant men have perpetrated upon unsuspecting women. There has been the usual cacophony of discordant voices attempting to attribute blame: drugs and alcohol, poor childhoods, lack of education or the absence of male role models are some of the more pronounced of the feeble excuses offered for these disgusting deeds. There is also a chorus of suggestions for punishments, everything from education to castration. However, in all this noise I have not yet heard the simple and powerful words “I’m sorry.” So here they are

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I’m sorry for the young Nigerian girls who were kidnapped and trafficked by an armed group of terrorist thugs.

I am sorry for wives and daughters in Canada and abroad who are victims of so called “honour killings.”

I’m sorry for female students in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan who attend schools with trepidation, fearing for their lives because they are girls and they desire an education.

I’m sorry for children who are sold into prostitution to relieve their parents’ poverty, who are exploited daily by pathetic sex-tourists.

I’m sorry for Aboriginal women in Canada who are being killed at an alarming rate and that it appears that very little is being done to prevent future targeted homicides.

I’m sorry that, for years, a handful of male miscreants have been committing acts of violence against women and that their sins have only recently been exposed.

I am sorry that misogyny reigned for minutes at the École Polytechnique 25 years ago leaving 14 women dead and many others traumatized.

I am sorry for young women in the workplace who are harassed and threatened and are discriminated against by Neanderthals who have an inexplicably exaggerated view of their own importance.

I am sorry for women on public transportation and in public places who are ogled, groped, denigrated and verbally abused by deviants who are bent on debauchery.

I am sorry for the young women who cannot look at a young man without wondering if he will violate her in some way.

I am sorry for all the women who were raped, who prefaced their horrendous accounts with a #.

I am sorry that our society is so sexualized that it is impossible to walk downtown, perform an Internet search or watch commercials on television without encountering some level of pornography.

I am sorry that these events have created an atmosphere of distrust and sometimes fear between men and women.

All men are created equal but all men do not remain that way. Some squander their integrity and mortgage their honour for what they think is power. How disappointed they must be when they discover that true power is something that one gives away not something that one uses to harm others.

So where do we go from here? Status quo is not an option. We know that if we don’t shine a light exposing evil, darkness will prevail. We know that we cannot legislate morality. It must be taught and modelled by parents, teachers and leaders. We know that people will remain quiet if they risk being re-victimized. We must make it safe for victims to report crimes that have been perpetrated against them. We know that it takes more than one person to have a dialogue and that successful discussions include all the stakeholders. We must have this conversation in our homes, our schools, in our workplaces and in our parliament. Positive and enduring change requires a desire to change and a true commitment from everyone. We need confession. We need forgiveness. We need to be reconciled to each other. We need to recalibrate our moral compass. Only then will there be healing and healthy living.

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