Sunday, December 03, 2006

Ka-BLOG Day 9: Because it's happening where you live

If yesterday's Ka-BLOG was global, today's is all about the local consequences of gender-based violence...and why federal cuts to the Status of Women Canada affect us where we live. Me? I live in Hamilton, where one of the Ontario SWC offices will shutter its doors come April Fool's Day. The Hamilton office has worked hard to meet the unique needs of our population: part 'big city'/professional, part 'post-industrial' working-class, and part 'New' Canadian. Think their work doesn't really matter? The Hamilton Spectator provides a summary of some of the reactions to the cuts:
The office and its full-time employee Evelyn Myrie arranged funding proposals of about $300,000 for women's and community groups in the area in the past year. Among them was $70,000 for a recent Women and Poverty report by the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton. The study is a highlight of the city's roundtable task force on poverty reduction campaign.
[...] [Sandy Shaw at the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton] says the plan by the government to replace the offices with online funding applications and proposals ignores all the networking, policy and research work that is the focus of the offices.
Elizabeth Webb, program co-ordinator at the St. Joseph's Women's Immigrant Centre, says the Hamilton office and Myrie helped guide the agency through a $10,000 grant proposal for a gender-bias study. "Myrie is a significant woman in our social service community and we are losing that support, and this is demoralizing," said Webb.
[...] Lenore Lukasik-Foss, director of the Hamilton Sexual Assault Centre, said the closures, budgets cuts, elimination of "equality" in its mandate and structural changes imposed on the Status of Women was a "huge concern" for local agencies.
[...] The sexual assault centre received a $60,000 grant to make its services more accessible to diverse racial and cultural Hamilton groups and create pilot programs that could be shared across the province.
"You can't cut three-quarters of the offices (in the country) and not be saying something about the importance you're placing on women in this country," said Lukasik-Foss.
Clare Freeman, executive director at Interval House women's shelter, said the government's moves to limit the advocacy role of the Status of Women showed it didn't understand the barriers and oppression women still face.
Not specific enough for you, guys? I'm looking at you, wingnut-commentators at The Globe & Mail--the guys who claimed SWC never made any tangible impact on women's lives. Just "get a lawyer" or give the money to shelters! Well, how 'bout talking to the people that actually operate these shelters & respond to the phone-calls of women still shaking from sexual violence? Here's Krista Warnke of SACHA (Sexual Assault Centre of Hamilton & Area) in Friday's Spectator {links added}:
We need not look any further than the daily newspaper to be reminded of the brutality waged upon women.
  • Violence against women: Far-reaching effects, The Hamilton Spectator, Nov. 2 : "A single stab wound inflicted by her partner ended Shelley Joseph's life. The 40-year-old Hamilton woman died in July 2004 when her companion of one year stabbed her in the heart at her home. Seventeen months later, drinking and unable to deal with the loss of his mother, her 24-year-old son took his own life."
  • Man jumps to death after killing wife, child, The Canadian Press, Toronto, Nov. 6: "A man jumped to his death from a ninth-floor balcony early yesterday after calling police to tell them he had killed his wife and teenage daughter."
  • Rape victim's parents go public to help her, The Canadian Press, Banff, Alberta, Nov. 7: "Her pregnant daughter was working in Banff in July 2005 when she was brutally beaten, raped and strangled with her purse straps by a drifter from Kenora, Ont. ... The victim, who remains in a persistent vegetative state, is now in an Ottawa care facility."
  • Man planned to kill ex-girlfriend, Toronto Star, Nov. 7: "A man who evaded police for a decade was targeting his ex-girlfriend 12 years ago when he sprayed a busy nightclub dance floor with bullets that killed two men and injured four others, say prosecutors."
  • He pushed her, jury finds, The Hamilton Spectator, Milton, Nov. 17: "A Grimsby man showed no emotion yesterday when a jury convicted him of first-degree murder in the death of his common-law wife during a hiking trip on the Niagara Escarpment three years ago."
  • Lawyer accuses Crown of foot-dragging in HIV case, The Hamilton Spectator, Nov. 22: "Defence lawyer Chris Morris is asking Superior Court Justice Thomas Lofchik to order a stay of proceedings against Johnson Aziga, 50, who is to stand trial Jan. 8. The research analyst with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General is charged with two counts of first- degree murder and 13 charges of aggravated sexual assault involving the deceased and 11 others with whom he is alleged to have had unprotected sex."
  • Man charged in wife's death, The Hamilton Spectator wire services, Toronto, Nov. 23: "A 34-year-old Mississauga man has been charged with murder in the death of his 29-year-old wife."
  • Young teacher groomed girls for sex: Crown, The Hamilton Spectator, Nov. 28: "A former Waterford high school teacher groomed infatuated female students to have oral sex and intercourse with him, according to a Crown prosecutor. Kristian Coulombe, 33, faces five counts each of sexual assault and sexual exploitation from 1999 to 2003."
SACHA, the Hamilton Sexual Assault Centre, the Women and Poverty council & the St. Joe's Immigrant Centre want to continue to provide meaningful services to our community. Harper is starving them out of existence.

{Photo courtesy of The Hamilton Spectator: SACHA's Take Back the Night, Sept 21, 2006}

technorati tags: takebackthetech

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