Despite good intentions and increasing awareness, violence against women “has not decreased in our community,” said the executive director of the Ottawa Coalition To End Violence Against Women.
According to OCTEVAW’s recently released report, Hidden From Sight: A look at the prevalence of violence against women in Ottawa, there were 606 sexual assault cases reported in Ottawa between 2007 and 2008, said Erin Williams.
“However, when you take StatsCan figures, saying only 10 per cent report sexual assault because of stigma and stereotypes, the predicted number is closer to 6,060,” she said.
The report also states that in the same time period, Ottawa Police responded to 2,440 domestic violence occurrences where charges were laid or warrants sought, said Williams. “And of these occurrences, 89 per cent who were charged were men, and 45 per cent of those men were repeat offenders,” she said.
The Ottawa Hospital’s sexual assault and partner abuse care program had 53 emergency clients between April 2007 and March 2008, Williams added.
“The numbers are startling. What this says is we need to do a better job of engaging our community, to start rethinking behaviours and to prevent violence from happening in the first place.”
Thursday and Friday, OCTEVAW and the Sexual Assault Network are hosting ManTalk, a conference to discuss how men can help end violence against women.
“It’s a big misconception that violence against women is a woman’s issue to deal with,” said OCTEVAW member Bailey Reid.
“We need everyone in the community to engage in the fight. And this happens in every community. There isn’t one community that doesn’t have this problem.”
Hundreds of people are expected to attend the event, held at the RA Centre for service providers today and at Carleton University Friday morning.