How Kamloops women are fighting against violence - InfoNews

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How Kamloops women are fighting against violence

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
September 14, 2017 - 8:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - No matter your gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, no one should feel afraid to walk alone at night.

That's the message Charlene Eden wants to get across to people. She's the agency coordinator for the Kamloops Sexual Assault Counselling Centre, which is hosting a Take Back The Night march tomorrow, Sept. 15.

"The message that started it was women should be able to walk down the streets at night alone and feel safe, not worry about violence," Eden says. "Anybody should be able to walk down the streets at any time, day or night, and feel safe."

There's been an annual march in Kamloops for years, Eden says, and it will continue until all people feel safe walking alone at night. She says about one-third of women will be assaulted in some form at one point in their life, and the only thing that can fix that is a societal change.

"Unfortunately the reality is sexual violence is still prevalent in our culture and society," Eden says. "It’s hard to feel safe knowing that we’re not actually safe, the statistics don’t lie."

As for how and when that culture shift will happen, Eden says it's impossible to know for sure, but the first step in addressing the problem is education at an early age.

She recommends teaching children from a very young age about boundaries and respectful relationships. Eden also points out the importance of men being allies to women when it comes to putting an end to sexual violence, or violence of any kind.

"We need men to be our allies, we need men to be speaking about this issue."

Historically, men weren't permitted at Take Back The Night marches, not just in Kamloops but everywhere, Eden says. But years ago, they were permitted and Eden says ever since more men have been showing up to march each year.

She says women aren't the only ones who face the dangers of walking alone at night, whether it's people of the LGBTQ2+ community, marginalized people, Indigenous people and more.

"We’re not just marching as women, we’re marching as women that understand certain groups of people are targeted more (than others)," Eden says. "As a woman I march for myself but I march for society as a whole."

The march begins at the Riverside Park bandshell at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow, Sept. 15, where an elder will say a prayer, drummers from the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society will perform, and a guest speaker will address the crowd. The route will go from the park, to Victoria Street, to 5th Avenue, down to Lansdowne Street, and back to Riverside Park.

"We welcome everyone," Eden says.

For more information on this event, go here.

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