News / Edmonton

Take Back The Night still needed in wake of #MeToo: Advocate

The event is meant to showcase just how hidden sexual violence is in society

Merryn Edwards is an organizer for Take Back the Night, which takes place Friday.

Kevin Tuong / Metro

Merryn Edwards is an organizer for Take Back the Night, which takes place Friday.

Despite growing awareness and dialogue about sexual violence against women —particularly in the entertainment industry— advocates say the sheer prevalence of the issue shows there’s still a need to Take Back The Night.

The annual event takes place Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. and is focused on bringing women together to highlight sexual and domestic violence against women and girls.

“It’s kind of symbolic, to march at night,” said Merryn Edwards, an organizer for the event.

“It might be a time when a lot of women are feeling insecure or vulnerable … but when you’re marching together as a group of people, uniting to oppose that kind of violence, there’s a strength and safety that comes from that collective resistance.”

The event also takes place at night to show how the prevalence of sexual violence against women is often hidden in society. Statistics Canada numbers from 2006 show that about one in three females will experience sexual assault at some point in their life, while Alberta ranks third highest for intimate partner violence among the provinces.

Take Back The Night taking place at Churchill Square in 2016.

Photo courtesy Paula Kirman

Take Back The Night taking place at Churchill Square in 2016.

Edwards said while she’s encouraged by the number of women who have recently come forward to speak about sexual violence in the entertainment industry, or who have used the #metoo hastag to tell about their own experiences with assault, there’s still much work to be done.

“There’s a growing number of people speaking out, but we still see it so entrenched,” Edwards said. “Although there has definitely been a lot more awareness … we haven’t addressed the systemic forces that make women in particular vulnerable to violence.”

Some of those issues are a lack of access to stable employment in many sectors, lack of access to affordable childcare, and poverty, she said. All of those factors make it harder for women to be financially independent, which affects the power dynamic between men and women.

Among the presenters are speaker from Edmonton’s migrant workers organization, who will speak on how restrictive employment rules make migrants more vulnerable to abuse and violence by their employers, Muriel Stanley Venne, founder of the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, and Nancy Dodsworth, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Edmonton Local.

The women and children’s march will take place at 6:30 p.m. on 124 Street. There will also be a men’s program at the host venue, Ironworkers Local 720 Union (10512 122 Street).

“There’s definitely a lot for men to learn about the problem … As long as it’s preventing women and all people from reaching their full potential, it’s an issue all members of society need to address,” Edwards said.

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