February 15, 2013

Women march on Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day Women's March Gathers Steam With Human Rights Watch Report and Idle No More

By David P. BallCarrying red and yellow roses symbolizing the 600 aboriginal women murdered and missing, respectively, thousands marched in cities across Canada on Valentine’s Day, banging on the door of the Prime Minister's office in Ottawa and bringing outrage to Vancouver's police station steps.

The annual missing women events were emboldened by an explosive Human Rights Watch report alleging gang rape, abuse and widespread misconduct by police released the day before. This year, marches also coincided with One Billion Rising, a global movement that saw rallies to end violence against women held in cities on every continent yesterday. Both initiatives were endorsed by organizers with Idle No More.

The largest of Canada's events was Vancouver's annual Women's Memorial March, in its 22nd year, which saw the Downtown Eastside streets swell with roughly 2,000 people. Many of them carried long cords of cloth squares embroidered or beaded with the names of the disappeared.

“It's actually healing and empowering with other family members to raise awareness,” Lorelei Williams said in Vancouver. Her cousin Tanya Holyk's DNA was found on convicted serial killer Robert Pickton's farm, but her aunt Belinda Williams remains missing.

The founder and director of the Butterflies in Spirit Project—a dance troupe of missing women's relatives—said she was not at all shocked by the February 13 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report that brought allegations of numerous rapes, beatings and abuse by members of Canada's national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). She had already heard similar allegations, she said, when working with the British Columbia Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, convened to examine the case of one perpetrator, serial killer Robert Pickton.

In Ottawa, several hundred participants marched with the advocacy group Walk4Justice, which brought several victims' family members from the Maritimes and North West Territories to Parliament Hill with supporters, where they banged on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office door. Harper did not answer.
Comment:  For more on violence against women, see Mounties Abuse Native Women and Republicans Fear VAWA's Tribal Jurisdiction.


Anonymous said...

Valentine's Day, or V-Day. (I didn't like The Vagina Monologues so much, but I like the idea of using Valentine's Day to highlight sexual violence.)

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:


'One Billion Rising' Gets Women on Their Feet Against Violence

As part of playwright and activist Eve Ensler's annual V-Day celebration, which brings anti-female violence to the world's attention every Valentine's Day, dance and physical self-expression has become key. This year a new theme, One Billion Rising, emerged from a horrifying statistic: that "one in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime," Ensler's V-Day site says.

This number comes to V-Day via the 2003 UNIFEM report "Not A Minute More: Ending Violence Against Women" and UNITE To End Violence Against Women Campaign, initiated by the office of the United Nations secretary-general in 2008.