Rallies across Quebec denounce rape culture
Published Wednesday, October 26, 2016 8:04AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 27, 2016 8:29AM EDT
Whether it's sexist remarks, groping, or rape, women and men rallied throughout Quebec Wednesday evening to denounce the behaviour.
More than one thousand people attended a protest at Montreal's Emilie Gamelin Park before marching to Club Soda and hearing from speakers including TV host Tammy Emma Pepin, writer Léa Clermont-Dion, and former journalist Sue Montgomery.
Montgomery was behind the "been raped, never reported" movement on social media where she encourage women who, like herself, have been raped to explain how commonplace the horrendous incident is -- and to explain why they never informed authorities.
In the two years, Montgomery says she has seen a widespread effect.
"Absolutely. We've never seen mainstream media cover these things as widely as they have. We've never seen governments discuss it as much as they have, or corporations for that matter," said Montgomery.
Discussing sexual assault is, however, only half the battle.
"The next thing we have to do is figure out how to stop it," said Montgomery.
She is calling for more support for victims of sexual assault, as well as changes to the judicial system.
Innu poet and activist Natasha Kanapé Fontaine said Wednesday's rallies across the province were an important way to show that Quebecers are united.
She has also denounced the allegations of sexual assault against aboriginal women in Val D'Or.
"Indigenous peoples are living with these rape culture communities since a long, long time, since the beginning of the colonization. For the first time we have to make all the fights, the struggles come together and to show that we are living with the same deal, the same struggles," she said.
Montgomery and other speakers would also like to see sexual education returned to Quebec's schools, along with a discussion about what constitutes consent about sexual activity.
The events come the same week two Laval University students were arrested and charged in connection with multiple sexual assaults and break-ins at one of the school's residences.
At a demonstration last week to denounce those assaults, one woman came forward to say she had been sexually assaulted by MNA Gerry Sklavounos. He has since left the Liberal caucus while maintaining his innocence.
Wednesday's rally was organized by the group Stop Rape Culture.
“Our everyday lives as women are filled with inappropriate, disrespectful and illegal behaviour that is tolerated, and even encouraged by our society,” reads the details on a Facebook event page. “The more women speak out, the closer we will get to real equality. Putting an end to rape culture requires all of us to stop blaming the victims of gender-based violence.”