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The City of Edmonton’s Gender-based Violence & Sexual Assault Prevention City Council Initiative, co-led by councillors Bev Esslinger and Scott McKeen, aims to shape attitudes, raise conversations and build awareness about preventing all forms of gender-based violence.

In an effort to make Edmonton the best city in Canada for women, men and children to live work and play, the City is committed to preventing and addressing gender-based violence. This initiative targets the root causes: inequality and discrimination.

This City Council initiative looks to engage all Edmontonians, but in particular, champions the role that men and boys play in the building of allyship and bystander skills to make our city safer, while improving the quality of life for people of all genders.

What is Gender-based Violence?

Gender-based violence is the discrimination of someone based on their gender expression, gender identity or perceived gender. (Source: Status of Women Canada)

Often it is inflicted by someone who believes their own gender is superior, therefore they feel it gives them a right to control and/or hurt their victim.

Gender-based violence is rooted in and intensified by other forms of discrimination such as racism, colonialism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and poverty.

Why Does Gender-based Violence Exist?

Gender-based violence is caused by stereotypes about sexuality, gender roles and gender expressions. These stereotypes promote gender inequality because they include rigid expectations about:

  • What it means to be a man or a woman
  • Gender roles in society for men and women
  • What constitutes ‘normal’ romantic and sexual relationships
  • Which gender claims are valid, limiting these to only two: men and women

These attitudes send messages that men are more important than women and gender minorities. Stereotypes like these can limit some expressions of gender and create risks for some populations to experience humiliation, intimidation and control or physical, verbal, psychological, emotional and financial abuse.

Who Are The Victims of Gender-based Violence?

Some populations, such as women and girls, are more at risk for gender-based violence because their identities are viewed as less valued compared to straight and masculine identities.

Populations that experience high rates of gender-based violence include:

  • Women
  • Girls
  • LGBTQ+ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Queer)
  • Gender minorities
  • Men are also at risk of gender-based violence
Types of Gender-based Violence

Gender-based violence can include:

Physical abuse: Using hands or objects as weapons with the intention of causing bodily harm.

Sexual Violence: Using threats, coercion, intimidation or physical violence to force unwanted sexual acts. This can include child sexual abuse, sexual harassment and sexual exploitation.

Emotional and psychological abuse: Threats to murder or commit suicide, forced humiliation or degradation, isolation from friends and family and other actions that reduce freedom, independence and self-esteem.

Financial abuse: Stealing or controlling money or valuables. Forcing work on one or denying one’s right to work.

Spiritual abuse: Using religious or spiritual beliefs to manipulate, dominate and control.

Harassment/stalking: Following or watching in an unwanted manner. Invading privacy in a way that threatens personal safety.

Cyber abuse: Abuse that happens on the web, whether through social networks, playing online games or using mobile devices.

(Source: Canadian Women’s Foundation)

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is one form of gender-based violence. It is any forced or unwanted sexual contact or behaviour that happens without consent.

Sexual assault includes, but is not limited to, rape, attempted rape, child molestation and sexual harassment or threats.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is the wilful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behaviour as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.

(Source: Las Vegas Criminal Defense)

Why Are Gender-based Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Important?

Gender-based violence is everyone’s problem and it is far too prevalent. The statistics are sobering: one in four North American women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and only six out of every 100 sex crimes are reported to the police (source: SexAssault.ca)

Though a majority of sexual assaults in Canada are committed by men against women and children, sexual violence can be experienced by anyone - people in same sex relationships, transgendered people and men.

People committing sexual violence are usually known to the person -  a parent, partner, date, friend, acquaintance, caregiver, professional, teacher, co-worker, boss, coach, clergy or a person in a position of trust.

Gender-based and sexual violence reduces one’s freedom to move, ability to participate in public life, limits access to essential services and has lasting impacts on one’s health and well-being.

While the greatest sexual assault risk factor is being female, risk increases if you are:

  • Young
  • Elderly
  • Poor
  • A person of colour
  • Indigenous
  • An Immigrant
  • Disabled
  • Criminalized or institutionalized
  • A sexual orientation or gender identity that does not conform to heterosexual gender norms
What is the City Doing to End Gender-based Violence?

The City is engaging with stakeholders from all orders of government, nonprofit and private sectors, educational institutions and private citizens to address gender-based violence. The City is committed to ending gender-based violence and is committed to:

  • Raising awareness of the issues and root causes
  • Creating dialogue about the problem and potential solutions
  • Learning from those with lived experiences
  • Changing attitudes in young people
  • Teaching Edmontonians - especially young men and boys - how to be great allies and stop the cycle of violence
Ending Gender-based Violence: Goals, Outcomes and Strategies

To eliminate gender-based violence, the City will develop policies that:

  • Address violence and discrimination against women and gender minorities
  • Promote gender equality
  • Support women and gender minorities, and all people with lived experiences of gender-based violence
  • Develop allyship skills in young men and boys, and change attitudes about gender and gender-based violence in young people
  • Change the way inequality is perpetuated at all levels of society

Strategies need to reflect the lived experiences of diverse women and work on multiple causes simultaneously.

Goals, Outcomes and Strategies:

1. The Edmonton public has increased awareness of, and understanding about, gender-based violence and sexual assault.

1.1 Develop and share a public awareness campaign aimed at bystanders.

1.2 Collaborate with partners to deliver public education on gender-based violence and sexual assault.

1.3 Foster and promote research about gender-based violence and sexual assault in Edmonton.

2. City employees have increased awareness of, and understanding about, gender-based violence and sexual assault.

2.1 Coordinate domestic violence in the workplace training for all city employees.

2.2 Develop and share an awareness campaign aimed at city employees.

3. Increased engagement of men and boys as allies in ending gender-based violence and sexual assault in our community.

3.1 Work with key partners to foster mentorship and peer support.

3.2 Undertake public education to support men in becoming effective allies.

4. Increased commitment to end gender-based violence and sexual assault on the part of Edmonton public, private and NFP organizations.

4.1 Facilitate a public declaration of commitment by leaders in the community.

4.2 Pursue Edmonton’s membership in the UN Women Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces program.

5. Enhanced support for, and collaboration with, initiatives that strengthen a coordinated community response to prevention.

5.1 Taking a collective impact approach, contribute to collaborative gender-based violence and sexual assault prevention initiatives and strategies.

6. Increased use of intersectional gender-based analysis in City of Edmonton business and processes.

6.1 Work with partners to coordinate gender-based training for City of Edmonton employees.

For More Information

Zanette Frost

Telephone

780-442-4849

Email zanette.frost@edmonton.ca

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