Blogging for the 16 Days Canada Campaign/Blogue pour la Campagne canadienne des 16 jours

Blogging for the 16 Days Canada Campaign 2018/Blogue pour la Campagne canadienne des 16 jours de 2018

Women in International Security Canada

Written by: Charlotte Duval-Lantoine

November 25th marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the very first day of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. From November 25th until December 10th, several organizations across Canada and all over the world will raise awareness about gender-based violence. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women not only jumpstarts the campaign, it constitutes a powerful day to start the conversation on the pervasive and persistent issues of violence against women across the world.

While it is important to recognize that the notion of “gender” encompasses a large range of individuals, from men and women to transgender and non-binary, and that all individuals can become targets of gender-based violence, women and marginalized groups remain the main victims of this type of violence. Gender is defined by the Status of Women Canada as “the roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society may construct or consider appropriate for the categories of “men” and “women”. It can result in stereotyping and limited expectations about what people can and cannot do.” More generally, when we think about gender-based violence, we tend to imagine the worst: sexual assaults, rape as a weapon of war, domestic abuse. However, there is a whole spectrum of gender-based violence that can occur in the workplace, and no work environment is immune from it.

The topic of this year’s campaign provides a good starting point to review our assumptions about gender-based violence in the workplace. It was only last year that the #MeToo movement took the social media by storm and became a worldwide movement. During this time, many victims (both female and male) came forward and shared their stories of abuse. This moment was a milestone, as victims of sexual and gender-based violence shared their stories and received support from a large community. But the #MeToo movement also fell short in many ways. The necessary discussion pertaining to what encourages or fosters gender-based violence did not happen. We focused on bad men and women who did bad things, and not on how to address the root causes of these issues. For a short period of time, we have seen alleged aggressors like Louis C.K. step down to reflect on their actions, only to come back months later without making any apparent efforts towards rehabilitation.

The #MeToo movement has highlighted the extent to which sexual violent is present in our society, however it appears little changes have been implemented in workplaces to tackle these issues, according to a survey published last October, by L’Actualité. In a report published in 2017 on harassment and sexual violence in the workplace, Employment and Social Development Canada also discovered appalling trends. In the survey, it was found that 60% of respondents had been victims of harassment, 30% of sexual harassment, 21% of violence and 3% of sexual violence. Moreover, 94% of the respondents who had reported being victims of sexual harassment in their workplace were women. The key findings of the survey revealed important trends: gender-based violence is not perpetrated by “a few bad apples,” and women are more targeted than men.

Gender-based violence in the workplace often hides an environment that is tolerant to abusive behaviours. Either individuals in position of power abusing their authority, or also those who prefer to turn a blind eye to not impact their career progression. We have seen it with the recent Google walkout, during which many employees demonstrated and called for action after many revelations came out that senior executives of the company were accused of sexual assault and harassment. We have seen it with the Oxfam scandal, which involved an organization-wide cover-up of humanitarian workers abusing impoverished women in need in Haiti. Most of the time, allegations of harassment or violence in the workplace are swept under the rug, to protect the organization’s reputation. However, these behaviours protect sexual predators, rather than support the victims of violence.

The campaign “End Gender-Based Violence in the World of Work” is a much-needed starting point to ask ourselves questions like:

  • What is gender-based violence?
  • Why do we think of it as an isolated issue?
  • What are its manifestations in the world of work?
  • How come have we created dynamics that allows for the perpetration and the cover-up of gender-based violence in the workplace?
  • How are we tackling these issues today?

Reading the blogposts for these 16 Days (today included) will give starting points to start a conversation. The  #MeToo movement has also overlooked the effects of gender-based violence on several communities, and the 16 days WIIS-Canada blog will highlight some topics that have received little attention to date. The events that will be held all across the country on gender-based violence are an opportunity to get involved in those discussions and change mentalities on these important issues. It is everyone’s responsibility to put an end to gender-based violence in the workplace.

 

Written by: Charlotte Duval-Lantoine

Femmes en sécurité internationale Canada

Rédigé par : Charlotte Duval-Lantoine

Le 25 novembre est la Journée mondiale de l’élimination de la violence à l’égard des femmes et le premier jour de la campagne des 16 jours d’activisme contre la violence fondée sur le genre. Du 25 novembre au 10 décembre, plusieurs organisations à travers le Canada et dans le monde entier vont sensibiliser la population sur la violence fondée sur le genre. La Journée internationale pour l’élimination de la violence à l’égard des femmes ne lance pas seulement la campagne des 16 jours, cette journée est aussi l’opportunité pour démarrer une conversation sur les problèmes persistants et pernicieux de la violence à l’égard des femmes.

Bien qu’il soit important de reconnaitre que le concept de « genre » englobe plusieurs catégories de personnes – incluant les hommes, les femmes, les personnes transgenres et non-binaires – et que tous ces individus puissent devenir la cible de violence basée sur le genre, n’empêche que les femmes et les groupes marginalisés demeurent surreprésentés par ce type de violence. Le genre est défini par Condition féminine Canada pour « désigner les rôles, les comportements, les activités et les attributs socialement déterminés, c’est-à-dire ce qu’une société juge approprié pour l’un ou l’autre des sexes. Les attentes qui en découlent, en général limitées et stéréotypées, définissent ce qu’une personne peut faire en société. » Généralement, lorsqu’on pense à la violence fondée sur le genre, nous avons tendance à imaginer le pire : les agressions sexuelles, le viol comme outil de guerre, la violence conjugale. Toutefois, il y a un spectre beaucoup plus large de la violence fondée sur le genre qui peut avoir lieu en milieu de travail, et aucun environnement de travail en est immunisé.

Le sujet de la campagne cette année offre un bon départ pour questionner nos préconceptions pour « Mettre fin à la violence basée sur le genre dans le monde du travail. » Cela fait seulement un an que le mouvement #MoiAussi (et #balancetonporc, au Québec et en France), a pris d’assaut les réseaux sociaux et est devenu un mouvement mondial. Durant cette période, plusieurs victimes (tant des femmes que des hommes) se sont manifestées en partageant leurs histoires d’abus. Ce moment a constitué un important pas vers l’avant, puisque les victimes de violences sexuelles ont pu partager leurs traumatismes et ont reçu du soutien de leur communauté. Toutefois, le mouvement #MoiAussi a également échoué à bien des égards. Les discussions nécessaires pour enrayer la violence fondée sur le genre n’ont pas eu lieu. Nous nous sommes concentrés à dénoncer les « mauvais » hommes et femmes qui ont fait de mauvaises actions, sans s’attaquer aux causes profondes responsables de ce type de violence. Bien que pour une courte période, nous avons vu agresseurs allégués, comme Louis C.K., se retirer de la vie publique pour réfléchir à leurs actions, plusieurs sont revenus au bout de quelques mois plus tard, sans avoir fait de réels efforts pour changer véritablement.

Le mouvement #MoiAussi a permis de réaliser que le harcèlement sexuel était un phénomène beaucoup plus répandu que l’on pouvait l’imaginer dans notre société, toutefois il semble que peu de changements aient été observés dans les milieux de travail pour adresser cet enjeu, selon un sondage réalisé en octobre dernier par l’Actualité. Un rapport sur le harcèlement et la violence sexuelle au travail, réalisé par Emploi et développement social Canada, a également découvert des tendances consternantes. Dans le sondage réalisé en 2017, 60% des répondants avaient répondus avoir été victimes de harcèlement, 30% ont fait face à du harcèlement sexuel, 21% ont été la cible de violence et 3% d’agressions sexuelles. De plus, 94% des répondants qui ont déclaré avoir été victimes d’harcèlement sexuel sur leur lieu de travail étaient des femmes. Ces constats démontrent que la violence fondée sur le genre n’est pas seulement perpétré par de « la mauvaise graine » et que les femmes en sont plus souvent la cible que les hommes.

La violence fondée sur le genre en milieu de travail cache souvent un environnement qui tolère les comportements abusifs. Cela peut être une personne en position de pouvoir qui abuse de son autorité, ou encore des employés qui préfèrent se fermer les yeux pour ne pas impacter leur progression de carrière. Nous l’avons vu récemment lors des grèves à Google, durant lesquelles plusieurs employés ont manifesté pour demander à la direction d’agir après que des révélations d’agressions et d’harcèlement sexuelles aient été portés contre des cadres de l’entreprise. Nous l’avons vu également avec le scandale à Oxfam qui avait dissimilé des abus sexuels commis par des travailleurs humanitaires à Haïti. La plupart du temps, les accusations d’agressions ou de harcèlement sexuels sur le lieu de travail sont ignorés ou dissimulés, pour protéger la réputation de l’entreprise. Cependant, ces comportements ne font que protéger les prédateurs sexuels, plutôt que d’offrir du soutien aux victimes.

La campagne « Mettre fin à la violence basée sur le genre dans le monde du travail » est un point de départ crucial pour se poser les questions suivantes :

  • Qu’est-ce que la violence basée sur le genre ?
  • Pourquoi nous semble-t-elle être un problème isolé ?
  • Quels en sont ces manifestations dans le lieu de travail ?
  • Comment se fait-il que nous ayons créé des conditions qui tolèrent la violence fondée sur le genre ?
  • Que faisons-nous pour nous attaquer à ce problème ?

Nous espérons que les billets de blogue de cette campagne des 16 jours seront le point de départ pour initier des discussions importantes sur la violence fondée sur le genre. Le mouvement #MoiAussi a eu tendance à négliger plusieurs communautés affectées par la violence fondée sur le genre, et la campagne de FÉSI-Canada illustrera des enjeux qui ont reçus peu d’attention jusqu’à présent. Également, des événements auront lieu à travers le pays durant la campagne des 16 jours pour sensibiliser les gens à la violence fondée sur le genre. Nous vous encourageons à participer et à vous sensibiliser à ces enjeux importants ; car c’est notre responsabilité à tous de mettre un terme à la violence fondée sur le genre dans le milieu du travail.

 

Rédigé par : Charlotte Duval-Lantoine

A Discussion with Jay Alden Potter, Crown Counsel, Public Prosecution Service of Canada.

  • As a Crown Prosecutor working in the Northern regions, can you tell us more about the specificities of your work?

For roughly four years, I’ve worked as a prosecutor in Canada’s northern territories, two years in Nunavut, and almost two years here in the Northwest Territories, where I’m currently based. The work involves attending court both in the territorial capital cities of Yellowknife and Iqaluit, as well as court circuits to remote communities, which are usually accessible exclusively by air. On a circuit, the entire court party, including the judge, court clerk, interpreters, lawyers, etc., all fly together to the community, and hold court in ad hoc facilities.

The circuit system poses both benefits and challenges. A positive feature is that we bring court to the community, instead of requiring victims and accused persons to travel to us. On the other hand, it can often be challenging for people to testify in front of their own small communities, where everyone knows each other and court is well-attended by members of the community.

The majority of my work involves prosecuting offences of domestic and sexual violence. The other distinguishing feature of my cases is that the vast majority of accused persons, as well as victims and witnesses, are Indigenous. Unfortunately, Indigenous Canadians remain significantly overrepresented in the criminal justice system in Canada, including here in the North.

  • Why are dynamics of domestic violence and sexual violence different in the North?

Some key differences have to do with the underlying causes for the violence, as well as unique challenges in supporting victims and rehabilitating perpetrators.

In terms of causes, Indigenous peoples have experienced immense intergenerational trauma over our country’s history—and those legacies continue to affect individuals and communities. In my cases, I frequently see accused persons come before the court with tragic circumstances, which do not excuse, but do help explain, why they have committed an offence. These circumstances include having attended residential schools, being a victim themselves of physical or sexual abuse, losing their culture and language, having close friends or family members die prematurely, including from suicide, and living with poverty, overcrowding, addictions, and other serious challenges.

In terms of support and rehabilitation, the geographic isolation of many northern communities makes it difficult to deliver programs and services. It also compounds the struggles faced by survivors: in several small communities, there is no safe shelter to flee from violence, and leaving the community is not always an option due to the high cost of airfare. It is also especially challenging for survivors to report abuse, because they are often concerned about the community finding out about the incident, which could result in stigma or other social consequences. In addition, reporting abuse when the perpetrator is the survivor’s partner means that that person may be arrested and imprisoned, or put on strict “no-contact” conditions. While this may temporarily stop the violence, it can also have negative impacts for the survivor, including a loss of financial support, childcare, housing (if the unit is in the abuser’s name), and in some instances, even cause food insecurity when the perpetrator is a hunter and provides traditional food for the family. In remote northern communities, store-bought food is often much more expensive than in southern Canada, so many individuals supplement it with “country food” obtained from hunting, fishing, and trapping.

  • What resources are accessible to the victims? Are there obstacles that prevent victims of sexual violence from using these resources?

Resources very much depend on the community. In larger centres like Yellowknife, there is comparatively more available, including shelters, greater access to counselling, and victim service workers who can help identify supports and link survivors up with resources. Services in smaller communities are improving, but still have a long way to go. Even in major centres, capacity gaps persist. For example, there is no residential addictions treatment facility in the north, so survivors (or perpetrators) who want to access that help have to go “south” to Alberta or Ontario. For some, this can be a barrier because not only does the person have to leave the territory for treatment that isn’t always culturally appropriate, but even if they do well, the families and peers they return to frequently are struggling with their own addictions, which can lead to relapses.

  • Can you share with us stories of inspiring community leaders and survivors that helped reduce domestic and sexual violence in their communities?

Recently in Yellowknife, the community faced a crisis when the YWCA, which offers many services and supports for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, lost a building to fire which included both its offices and apartments for 33 families. The community response was inspiring: the local Fieldhouse was converted to a temporary shelter, and within a day of the fire, the community worked together to re-house all of the families that were affected. A silver lining of the crisis has been to raise awareness of the important work the organization is doing in Yellowknife to support survivors, including offering a Family Violence Prevention Program as well as housing and counselling for northerners who have experienced family violence.

  • Are there initiatives or programmes that you observed that were particularly successful in preventing gender-based violence in Northern communities?

In the community of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, on the coast of Hudson Bay, domestic and family violence has traditionally been the most prevalent offence on court dockets. The community has effectively responded to this challenge by organizing a spousal abuse prevention program that offers structured counselling for persons accused of domestic violence. Through a formal agreement with the courts, prosecution, and defence bar, accused persons facing their first charge (or in some cases, second charge) of domestic violence are referred to the program. Over several weeks, they are required to participate in specialized counselling sessions, which are delivered by members of the community. If they complete the program successfully, the accused becomes eligible for a sentencing option called a conditional discharge, which means that if they avoid future charges, they would not have a permanent criminal record. The program has particularly helped in reducing the recidivism (rate of re-offending) for domestic and family violence in the community.

Written by: Amaliah Reiskind

The rise of VAWG online

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most widespread forms of abuse in the world. This pandemic is no longer limited to the physical world.  Online platforms and applications have become tools used to target, harass, and denigrate women and girls. This issue of digital VAWG is perverse as, while following the same patterns of behaviour as physical violence, it reaches new depths in the erosion of the sense of personal security. The relative ease with which technology-related violence can be perpetrated, coupled with the lack of clear legislative frameworks of support, continues to feed the growth of this dangerous phenomenon. A survey by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights found that one in ten women within the EU have already experienced a form of cyber violence since the age of 15. This survey was one of the first of its kind as it focused on the role new technologies played in the perpetuation of violence against women. While cyber violence affects people of all genders, forms of online violence and their repercussions are more severe towards women and girls.

Types of VAWG online

There are countless ways technology can facilitate gender violence, abuse, and harassment. Traditional cyber weapons such as hacking, doxing, or denial-of-service attacks are used with the express purpose of intimidating or exploiting someone. More common are less technical, but just as insidious, acts such as cyber stalking. Cyber stalking is the close tracking of a person’s online activities and is usually coupled with the repeated sending of unwanted e-mails or text messages. Often stalking can progress into online harassment where messages take on threatening tones, unwanted sexual pressures, or hate speech. Online community forums focused on misogynistic ideas, such as the “Incel” or “Red Pill” movements, may encourage these harmful behaviours.  Such groups are dangerous as they bring together disillusioned and angry individuals, creating echo-chambers wherein violence is incited.

One of the most disruptive forms of cyber violence is the online posting or distributing of sexually graphic images without the subject matter’s consent. These images could have been acquired unlawfully through extortion or the hacking of the victim’s devices or online accounts, however the perpetrator is usually an ex-partner. The act is often done due to malice and has therefore been given the unsavoury term ‘revenge porn.’ The repercussions to the victims of such acts do not remain solely in the digital realm. There can be very real and long-lasting impacts to the victim’s physical and mental health, economic or social standing, and personal safety.  It took Canada until 2015 to pass legislation criminalising the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. Prior to that, law enforcement was solely concerned if the images being circulated depicted underage victims or was accompanied by “aggravating factors.” It is important to remember that cyber violence doesn’t exist in an independent sphere from physical dangers; many women who experience online violence from someone they know are often victims of real-world sexual harassment, stalking, or violence from the same person.

The pervasiveness of the digital realm has also led to a surfeit of online tools that can be used to directly exploit women and girls. There are relatively few risks in setting up websites that provide information and links to bride trafficking, sex tours, brothels, or video conferenced sex shows. Unless properly educated, girls can be groomed and lured through online applications. Women can be surveilled and tracked.

Who is targeted?

Women and girls are not the only victims of online violence. Digital targeting can be due to many different factors, such as: age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, or religion.  People belonging to vulnerable groups, who are less likely to seek support from law enforcement, are often sought for exploitation. However, women, especially vulnerable women and girls, are disproportionately the victims of harmful online behaviour and the effects on the victims are disproportionately more severe.

What can be done to combat it

 While strides are being made, lawmakers still lag behind on defining and legislating online violence. Clear definitions, as we are finally starting to see in regard to physical assaults, are needed so that both victims and authorities know what outcomes to pursue. The digital sphere is still the Wild West in a lot of ways; issues such as jurisdiction, enforcement, and identification are yet to be firmly established. Progress is slowly being made though, 40 out of 50 states in America now have laws against the distribution of sexual photos or videos without the depicted person’s consent.

The companies on whose platforms and applications this violence and harassment is facilitated also need to take greater responsibility. Companies such as Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter all have policies against hate speech and cyber bullying yet only seem to enforce them when there is wide public pushback. Shutting down destructive online behaviour at its beginnings and moderating the tools in which it is cultivated needs to become a self-regulated priority.

Finally, training and education is needed for the issue of VAWG online to be culturally understood. This means greater technological training for law enforcement and legal professionals, and better education for vulnerable people who could be the targets of online violence.

If nothing is done to combat the continuous harassment and violence against women and girls online, the diversity of voices in this now integral domain will remain stunted.

Par : Andréanne Bissonnette, étudiante au doctorat en science politique et chercheure en résidence à la Chaire Raoul-Dandurand, UQÀM

En septembre 2018, 16 658 individus, migrant en famille, ont été ont été appréhendés à la frontière mexicaine-étatsunienne, marquant une nouvelle augmentation du nombre de migrant.e.s tentant de franchir la frontière – et un record (New York Times, 2018). Pourtant, au lendemain de l’élection du 45e président des États-Unis, les traversées de la frontière s’étaient amenuisées, comme suspendues dans le temps et l’espace, en attente des prochaines décisions en provenance de Washington. Or, force est de constater que les derniers mois ont sonné le glas de cette diminution qui n’aura été que temporaire. Depuis le mois d’avril, la frontière est de nouveau un point névralgique où femmes, hommes et enfants tentent d’atteindre les États-Unis. En réaction à cette augmentation, l’administration Trump offre un discours sécuritaire : autorisation de la construction de 17 miles de mur frontalier dans la Rio Grande Valley et adoption d’une politique de tolérance zéro marquée par la séparation des enfants, qui sont envoyés dans des « refuges » pour enfants, de leurs parents, qui restent en détention. Malgré cette réponse ferme, le mouvement migratoire ne s’amenuise pas – notamment chez les femmes. Importe alors de comprendre pourquoi celles-ci migrent. Quels sont les impératifs qui les poussent à prendre cette décision complexe qu’est celle de migrer vers les États-Unis – sachant tout ce que cela comporte en termes de violence?

Jusqu’aux années 1980, le mouvement migratoire vers les États-Unis était principalement masculin et motivé par des impératifs économiques. Un désir d’amélioration des conditions matérielles et des perspectives d’avenir constituait les justificatifs au projet migratoire, qui était alors perçu comme temporaire. La militaro-sécurisation de la frontière dans la seconde moitié des années 1980, et plus intensément depuis 1990, a mis un terme à une migration circulaire, poussant à la pérennisation de l’installation. Parallèlement, l’augmentation des insécurités en Amérique centrale a entraîné un changement dans la composition du mouvement migratoire, qui s’est féminisé et dans son justificatif, de plus en plus centré sur les insécurités multiples et pluridimensionnelles.

L’argument économique reste présent et motive encore le projet migratoire de plusieurs. Or, on parle aujourd’hui d’insécurités économiques. En Amérique centrale, 29% des femmes n’ont pas un revenu qui leur est propre (12% chez les hommes) et 50% des mères n’ont pas de travail à l’extérieur de la maison (Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, 2017). Le taux de non-emploi est important, accentuant une dépendance envers le revenu du mari – ou de la famille. Pour celles dont le revenu dépend de la production agricole, la monoculture et la fluctuation des coûts temporaires des marchés d’exportation ajoutent aux incertitudes liées aux aléas de la nature. Plus encore, les changements climatiques rajoutent à l’insécurité : ouragans, tremblements de terre, pluies diluviennes et sécheresses répétées sont autant d’éléments qui ponctuent et affectent les Centraméricain.e.s comptant sur le milieu agricole pour assurer leur survie. Cette double insécurité pousse des femmes à la migration, afin d’assurer une sécurité d’abord physique et ensuite économique.

L’insécurité est également politique. À travers le processus de déportation, les États-Unis ont contribué à l’implantation de groupes criminels (notamment le MS-13) dans les pays d’Amérique centrale. La faiblesse des institutions politiques et judiciaires (corruption, impunité) a favorisé la montée de la violence liée à ces groupes (opposition entre gangs, accès aux armes à feu, trafic de stupéfiants) et a produit un sentiment d’insécurité généralisée. Or, une dimension de genre demeure : alors que les jeunes hommes sont davantage visés par les campagnes de recrutement, les jeunes filles font les frais des initiations des nouveaux membres. En effet, certains groupes incluent le viol d’une fille comme étape obligatoire au processus d’initiation.

Cette problématique des violences de genre n’est toutefois pas circonscrite aux violences de gang. En Amérique centrale, les femmes font face à une pluralité de violations – qui n’ont pour seule réponse qu’une impunité gouvernementale et une multiplication de lois restreignant leurs recours et leurs droits (principalement reproductifs). Dans un premier temps, les femmes centraméricaines sont menacées par un problème rampant – présent dans l’ensemble de l’Amérique latine, avec une prédominance au Mexique – des féminicides (le meurtre d’une femme en raison de son genre). De plus, il existe un problème important de violences conjugales : 1 femme sur 3 ayant été mariée ou en union libre a été victime de violence conjugale (IADB, 2014). Sur l’ensemble des femmes assassinées dans la région, 29.4% l’ont été aux mains de leur conjoint ou un membre de la famille (IADB, 2014). Dans un second temps, elles sont confrontées, comme une majorité de femmes à l’échelle mondiale, à un problème de violences sexuelles. De façon générale, une agression sur sept est rapportée à la police (Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, 2017), mais cela ne mène généralement pas à des accusations. La corruption policière, l’absence de recours légaux et la faible reconnaissance de la violence sexuelle en tant que violence publique (et non privée) constituent autant d’embuches à la sécurité des femmes. De plus, il y a une absence d’éducation sexuelle qui permettrait de comprendre pourquoi les hommes agressent les femmes et non pourquoi les femmes sont agressées. Cette absence d’éducation sexuelle, couplée à une centralité du discours religieux, entraîne une absence de droits reproductifs. L’avortement est criminalisé dans deux des quatre États formant l’Amérique centrale (Honduras et El Salvador), donnant lieu à des avortements-maison et des grossesses non-désirées. Plus encore, cette criminalisation a donné lieu à l’emprisonnement de femmes salvadoriennes qui, suite à une fausse couche, ont été accusées d’avoir volontairement mis fin à leur grossesse en « assassinant leur enfant ». Parallèlement à cette absence de droit à l’avortement, se dresse également, au Honduras, une absence d’accès à la contraception depuis 2009. Bien que généralement accessible ailleurs en Amérique centrale, on dénote des pénuries dans certaines villes se trouvant sur la route migratoire – les femmes cherchant à obtenir une forme de contraception afin de limiter les impacts d’un éventuel viol (car sur la route migratoire, la question n’est plus si viol il y aura, mais plutôt quand celui-ci aura lieu).

Le mouvement migratoire féminin en provenance de l’Amérique centrale ne correspond plus à l’image de l’homme migrant pour faire vivre sa famille qui prédominait les discours politiques et représentations médiatiques avant les années 2000. Les insécurités pluridimensionnelles poussent les femmes à la migration et ce, malgré tous les dangers que cela implique (agression(s) sexuelle(s), enlèvement, prostitution forcée, séparation des enfants à la frontière, mort). Le caractère dissuasif des risques et politiques migratoires étatsuniennes devient inopérant face aux insécurités omniprésentes.

Sources :

New York Times, 2018 : Miriam Jordan. "A New Surge in at the Border Is Forcing Migrant Families Into Motel Rooms". New York Times, 18 octobre 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/18/us/migrant-families-arizona-ice-motels.html

Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, 2017: pas de lien internet, ce sont des notes de conférence prises à Montréal en 2017

IADB, 2014: Anne-Marie Urban et Paola Buitrago. "Violencia contra la mujer: Echemos un vistazo". Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo, 25 novembre 2014, https://blogs.iadb.org/y-si-hablamos-de-igualdad/2014/11/25/violencia-contra-la-mujer-echemos-un-vistazo/

By Kathryn Foss, Positive Space Champion/LGBTQ+ Advocate

When thinking about “Gender-Based Violence (GBV)” our minds conjure up many mental images of heinous and despicable acts predominantly targeted towards women across all of humanity.  Many of these actions are conducted away from the prying eyes of society and authority by the perpetrators, and are also kept hidden by the victims who feel powerless and ashamed. Yet the effects are visible, the impacts on individual people from GBV tear at their bodies, minds and souls with damage lasting lifetimes.  

But what about hurtful acts which are unnoticed because they are considered so small that they do not warrant attention.  We already acknowledge that words can be harmful, overt verbal acts can inflict psychological abuse.  Biased application of legislation and regulation can result in the denial of resources, opportunities and services.  But what if these words are not overt?  What if these words were never intended to have negative consequences because they are embedded in the common vernacular of the society?  There is actually a name for this, they are called Microaggressions.

Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.

There is a responsibility on the speaker to use the right words to communicate the right message with the correct intent.  It is impossible for the recipient to extract or interpolate the missing aspects without incurring some error.  Therefore, one cannot hold the recipient responsible for misreading intent.  Each and every word that is used is important, and has power.  Its definition has to be understood in order to grasp the effect of its meaning.  One needs to watch and listen to the responses to learn how clarity affects change.

You’re likely asking what does this all mean.  Your intentions are good and you think before you speak, so what could be wrong?  Consider one of the words used multiple times throughout this Campaign…”Women”.  When we read or hear the word “woman” or “women”, are we in fact thinking the same thing?  Is it gender which comes to mind or biological sex?  Does the word woman make you think of only natal women or does it include transgender women as well?

At a recent conference I attended where some discussion was centered on diversity and integrating gender perspectives, I listened to four experienced and educated speakers whose work clearly delineated that sex and gender were separate characteristics.  Yet throughout their verbal presentations, they all interchanged “women” (gender) and “female” (sex).  While most listeners will not find issue with each occurrence as they make their own linkage, there are those such as transgender persons like myself, who have the distinct definitions make constant minor cuts into their lives where each use compounds trauma.  While logically I am aware of the speakers’ unconscious slips, internally these “mistakes” make me question whether any of their research is valid or unbiased when such a basic concept escapes them when speaking in public.  What is even more dangerous is the subconscious assessment made in the minds of those individuals who are listening to these learned speakers.  They are learning that “women” and “female” are interchangeable, and in the future they will use that knowledge and reinforce the improper linkage.

So why is this so dangerous?  Why is the distinction between “sex vs. gender” and “female vs. woman” so important?  It is because discrimination can and does occur based upon the difference between sex and gender.  While countries like Canada base rights upon one’s gender/gender identity, other nations like the United States are moving towards genetics-based (read biological sex) characteristics.  Merriam-Webster provides a commonly accepted definition of “sex” - either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and many other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.  With this in mind, when academics, politicians and journalists use the word “female”, are they purposefully referring to reproductive capabilities or should they actually be using “woman” to refer to an individual’s gender (social) role?

Such a basic mixing of the concepts of sex and gender might be missed by the majority of the population, but for those like the transgender community where societal confusion over the two cause constant friction, every mix-up is a potential for discrimination.  These end up being the negative messages at the core of microaggressions.  Words, yes…simple words, can feel like hundreds or thousands of violent little micro-attacks when they are wielded by those in power without regard for the impact they cause.  When words such as these are used, we listen to understand if we are included or not…whether we belong.

It should be noted that this is no way challenging the definitions of sex and gender, or what constitutes being “female” or a “woman”.  As a transgender person I can accept that biologically I am not “female” as I do not have the requisite genetics or reproductive functions, however I am a “woman” as I match the socially constructed characteristics of women – such as norms, roles and relationships.

However what is being challenged is the lack of attention that has been given to using the appropriate words to convey the right message with the correct intent.  If the intent of a message is to refer to people based upon their genetic or reproductive capabilities, then the use of “female” is appropriate.  However if their ability to bear children is not relevant, then “woman” would be more fitting.  Consider whether it is more impressive that a test pilot has ovaries or that she is a test pilot while living with all that being a woman entails.

So, you too can be a catalyst to make major changes in removing the unseen violence of microaggressions, and it will not take a lot to have a major impact.  It simply requires you to consider and use the right words to communicate your intended message.

Par Sonia Dussault

En décernant le prix Nobel de la paix 2018 à Denis Mukwege, gynécologue congolais connu pour sa pratique de la chirurgie réparatrice auprès des femmes victimes de viol de guerre, et à Nadia Murad, activiste yézidie en droits humains ayant vécu l’enfer de l’esclavage sexuel en Iraq, le comité Nobel norvégien reconnait leurs efforts visant à mettre fin à l’utilisation du viol et de la violence sexuelle comme armes de guerre. Cette reconnaissance prestigieuse s’inscrit directement dans l’héritage de cinq résolutions onusiennes établissant clairement le lien entre la violence sexuelle liée aux conflits et les questions concernant les femmes, la paix et la sécurité (résolution 1325 (2000) & résolution 1960 (2010)), reconnaissant la violence sexuelle liée aux conflits comme un crime de guerre (résolution 1820 (2008)), confiant aux missions de maintien de la paix le mandat de protéger les femmes et les enfants contre ce type de violence (résolution 1888 (2009)) et demandant le renforcement des efforts visant à traduire en justice les auteurs de ces crimes (résolution 2106 (2013)).[i] Malheureusement, le viol et les violences sexuelles ne font pas uniquement des victimes féminines dans les zones de conflit.

Voilà pourquoi il est essentiel d’adopter une véritable analyse comparative entre les sexes (ACS) lorsqu’on examine la question de la violence sexuelle liée aux conflits, afin de mieux cerner tous les enjeux reliés à cette problématique et soutenir des prises de décisions éclairées, fondées sur des données probantes, qui tiennent compte des besoins spécifiques des populations touchées. Grâce à la dissémination de l’ACS, un nombre croissant d’intervenants œuvrant au sein d’organismes gouvernementaux et d’organisations non-gouvernementales (ONG) tant à l’échelle locale, nationale ou internationale affirment que leurs recherches et leurs recommandations sont basées sur cette approche méthodologique. Trop souvent, il n’en est rien. Cette démarche analytique ne s’intéresse pas uniquement au sort des femmes et des petites filles. Loin de là!

Une véritable ACS (aussi appelée ACS+) est une méthode d’analyse rigoureuse qui permet de mettre en lumière les différences entre les expériences humaines de divers groupes, celles-ci étant directement influencées par le recoupement de facteurs tels que le sexe (différence biologique), le genre (la construction sociale du sexe), l’âge, l’ethnicité, la langue, la religion, l’orientation sexuelle, la culture, l’appartenance politique, le niveau d’incapacité ou le milieu socio-économique, et qui sert à évaluer les répercussions potentielles des politiques, des programmes ou des initiatives sur diverses populations.

Une ACS bonifiée permettra de : (1) mettre en lumière quels groupes ont un accès privilégié ou restreint aux ressources d’une société (avant, pendant ou après un conflit armé), (2) dresser un portrait précis des victimes de violences sexuelles comme armes de guerre en évitant d’aborder la collecte de données avec des idées préconçues (comme celle voulant que les victimes soient toujours féminines) ou de traiter les femmes (et les hommes) comme un groupe monolithique, (3) évaluer adéquatement l’impact des politiques et des lois existantes ainsi que l’état et l’accessibilité aux programmes et services offerts aux survivant(e)s afin d’identifier précisément les besoins comblés et non-comblés de ces divers groupes et (4) soutenir l’élaboration de politiques, la mise en œuvre ou le financement d’initiatives et de programmes pour répondre aux besoins non-comblés des survivant(e)s.

Même si le plus récent rapport annuel du Secrétaire général des Nations Unies détaillant les violences sexuelles commises lors de conflit est un pas dans la bonne direction, il est typique d’études qui, bien qu’elles s’en réclament, sont basées sur une ACS superficielle ou incomplète.[ii] Dans ce rapport faisant état de la situation dans 19 pays où sont utilisés le viol et la violence sexuelle comme arme de guerre, les victimes féminines en Afghanistan, au Népal, en Côte d’Ivoire et en Bosnie sont traitées en bloc sans examiner le recoupement de plusieurs facteurs tels que le genre, l’appartenance politique, ethnique ou religieuse. Et dans les 11 pays où les hommes et les garçons sont identifiés comme victimes de violences sexuelles, des recommandations pour leur venir en aide directement sont faites uniquement dans les cas de la Colombie et du Sri Lanka.

Pour ce qui est de la Lybie, si l’identification de la diversité des victimes féminines de violence sexuelle liée à ce conflit est acceptable, les omissions du rapport concernant les victimes masculines sont franchement inquiétantes. Une seule phrase fait état de l’utilisation de violence sexuelle comme forme de torture contre des hommes détenus dans des prisons contrôlées par des éléments armés et leur sort ne fait l’objet d’aucune recommandation.[iii] Pourtant, les rapports d’ONG telles que ceux d’Amnestie Internationale et de We Are NOT Weapons of War (WWOW) sont sans équivoque. Employé par le régime de Mouammar Kadhafi pour terroriser les opposants politiques, le viol de guerre est depuis utilisé massivement par les milices libyennes (katiba) comme outil de vengeance et de terreur, ciblant tout aussi bien les femmes que les hommes.[iv] Mais sur cette culture du viol liée au conflit, le rapport du secrétaire-général reste étrangement silencieux.

Bien que de tout temps les conflits armés aient été le théâtre de violences sexuelles, l’institutionnalisation de cette forme de violence dans les conflits contemporains représentante un défi de taille pour les gouvernements et les organisations humanitaires. Pour combattre ce que le Dr. Mukwege appelle « la métastase du viol de guerre », venir en aide aux survivant(e)s et lutter contre l’impunité, il faut avoir une approche globale afin d’enrayer ce cancer qu’est la propagation de la violence sexuelle liée aux conflits. Pour y parvenir, il faut examiner cette problématique complexe à travers le prisme d’une véritable ACS afin de documenter l’ampleur du viol de guerre dans le monde, fournir des données chiffrées viables et ainsi être en mesure de soutenir des réponses adaptées aux besoins locaux.

[i] Conseil de sécurité, « S/RES/1325(2000) », ONU, 31 octobre 2000, http://www.un.org/womenwatch/ods/S-RES-1325(2000)-F.pdf (consulté le 25 octobre 2018); « S/RES/1820(2008), ONU, 19 juin 2008 , https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/CAC%20S%20RES%201820.pdf (consulté le 25 octobre 2018); « S/RES1888(2009) », ONU, 30 septembre 2009, http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/vaw/securitycouncil/S-RES-1888-(2009)-French.pdf (consulté le 25 octobre 2018); « S/RES/1960(2010) », ONU, 16 décembre 2010,  https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/WPS%20SRES%201960.pdf (consulté le 25 octobre 2018); « S/RES/2106(2013) », ONU, 24 juin 2013, https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/s_res_2106.pdf (consulté le 25 octobre 2018).

[ii] Conseil de sécurité, “Report of the Secretary-General on conflict-related sexual violence, ONU, 23 mars 2018, https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/N1808325-1.pdf (consulté le 20 août 2018).

[iii] Ibid., 14-15.

[iv] Communiqué de presse, « En Libye, les réfugiés et les migrant fuient les sévices sexuels, les violences et l’exploitation », Amnesty International, 1er juillet 2006, https://www.amnesty.org/fr/press-releases/2016/07/refugees-and-migrants-fleeing-sexual-violence-abuse-and-exploitation-in-libya/ (consulté le 26 octobre 2018); Marin Chave, « Libye, La guerre par le viol », Série de 4 articles publiés entre le 18 et 24 octobre 2018, We Are NOT Weapons of War, https://www.notaweaponofwar.org/libye-la-guerre-par-le-viol-1-4/ (consulté le 26 octobre 2018).

By: Charlotte Duval-Lantoine, Master’s student in Military History at Queen’s University and Assistant to the Executive Director of Women in International Security Canada

When thinking about gender-based violence in the world of work, the reputation of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has been tarnished several times over the last decades over scandals of sexual misconduct and harassment. With an apparent hypermasculine culture, in which alpha-type personalities dominate, sexual assault has been a persisting issue in the CAF. The renewed scrutiny that ensued from the publication of the Deschamps Report and the implementation of initiatives like Operation HONOUR that aims to change the military culture to eradicate behaviours of sexual misconduct and harassment are commendable. But are these initiatives really working? The objective of this blog is to use the Canadian military as a case study to analyse the invisible, yet pervasive and psychologically harmful effects of gender-based violence to deny victims recognition and justice. Using the CAF as an example also reveal that despite significant improvements, several aspects of the culture have remained unchanged in the last two decades.

May 25th, 1998. Dawn Thomson’s picture in her Navy uniform makes the cover of the latest issue of Maclean’s, revealing a culture in the CAF that allows sexual assault to occur at an alarming rate among the ranks and across the chain of command. Thomson’s story is heart-wrenching. She was raped by one of her close friend in his barracks, a few months after having joined Fleet School. She went to a doctor to receive support and reported her assault. The chain of command dropped the charges, fined and punished her for being in the male quarters after curfew, and had to publicly state, every day for 21 days, the reasons for which her superior confined her to the barracks. Yet, she ‘soldiered’ on. She graduated Fleet School first of her class and was posted to her first assignment on another base. However, the rumours preceded her arrival, and she became the target of harassment. Her mental health took a toll, and she spent two months in a psychiatric hospital three months before leaving the Forces. She joined Fleet School in January 1992. She left in September 1993.

She was not the only one to come forward: Maclean’s published four cover issues on the topic between May 25th and December 14th, 1998, with three of them issued in the summer of that year. In these issues, multiple servicemembers (both women and men) came forward about instances of assaults that senior leadership had dismissed. An anonymous reservist in the military police was told by his supervisors to “look the other way”. CWO (retired) Everett Boyle left the Forces after his chain of command refused to prosecute an officer who had been sexually harassing one of his married privates. Former Corporal Sean Cummings was arrested and interviewed by the military police out of fear he would assault the man who had raped his sister. When all these revelations came to the attention of the public, the senior leadership of the Armed Forces had no choice but to respond. A week after the first issue was published, then-Chief of the Defence Staff Maurice Baril made his first statement. Although he put in place a hotline for victims, he emphasized that the issue at hand was a problem of a small portion of leadership “that we are trying to correct.” A week later, Baril declared he wanted victims to move forward, yet expressed his resentment towards the impact on men in uniform and how it tainted their reputations.

         May 15th, 2014. L’Actualité published a special issue on sexual misconduct in the CAF that was the result of a year-long investigation. The first story was about Lise Mathieu, a master corporal in the Royal Canadian Air Force who experienced more sexual assaults that she can count on her own hands. Decades after the first assault, in 2007, she finally decided to report all of them. She presented a 159-page report, which her superior dismissed for being implausible because it implicated 15 men. Following such a dismissal, she left the service. A few months later, she went to a psychiatric hospital.

Just like the Maclean’s revelations of 1998, L’Actualité disclosed an environment that was permissive of sexual assaults; leaders protected perpetrators and penalized the victims. The magazine’s headline had a shocking statistic: each day, five servicemembers, men or women, are subjected to sexual assault. Just like General Baril 16 years earlier, the Chief of Defence Staff Tom Lawson had to respond to these appalling revelations. While calling for an internal and external review (which would lead to the Deschamps report), he refused the idea that “sexual misconduct [was] part of our military culture,” yet stating in an interview with CBC that some servicemen were “biologically wired in a way” that would lead them to “see themselves as being able to press themselves on our women.” He also emphasized that the situation had improved in recent years.

This historical comparison is important to reflect on that last statement: has the Armed Forces norms really evolved on gender-based violence, and more specifically on sexual assault? The similarities between the statements of the two different CDS suggest it is not the case. The fact that victims still struggle to be believed and to receive support is still very present, as was recently disclosed in the Report of the Auditor General of Canada on Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour in the Canadian Armed Forces. The fact that victims accusing a person in a position of authority of sexual assault result in an urge to protect the alleged perpetrator’s reputation or to defend “other senior leaders’ reputation” show that there is still a long way to go. When victims come forward, it is not to cause harm to someone’s successful career or happy life, it is to receive support and receive support caused by the trauma they experienced. The difficulty to change the culture of the CAF on sexual misconduct also echoes what we have seen in our society at large. Think about the pushback against the #MeToo movement, the supporters of Jian Ghomeshi, and Brett Kavanaugh, among others. Doing so retraumatize the victims, who constantly have to repeat their stories, only to be told they are liars.

Not supporting adequately the victims is a form of gender-based violence. Victims become liabilities whose well-being and rights are temporarily put aside to preserve the reputation of a powerful institution. To help eradicate behaviours of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment, we must offer better support to the victims in a timely manner, and ensure that reporting does not end the victim’s career in this organization. This is where several organisations have failed, and this is one of the reasons why workplaces have struggled to eradicate sexual misconduct in their organisations.

Par Mylène de Repentigny-Corbeil, Candidate à la maitrise en communication internationale et interculturelle, UQAM, et chercheure en résidence, Chaire Raoul-Dandurand en études stratégiques et diplomatiques

En 2017, sur sa page Facebook, Manal Drissi écrivait que selon elle, pour être une femme dans les médias, il faut une « santé mentale de fer et une résilience surhumaine » (Radio-Canada, 2017). Victime de cyberviolence visant tant son genre que son origine ethnoculturelle, l’animatrice, chroniqueuse et blogueuse féministe abordera peu de temps plus tard, sur les ondes de Radio-Canada, le double standard auquel elle fait face : « Je vous donnerais le même texte que j’ai écrit, vous ne vous feriez pas dire "retournez dans votre pays si vous êtes pour critiquer le Québec", vous ne vous feriez pas dire que vous avez du sable dans le vagin » (Radio-Canada, 2017). En effet, les insultes sexistes sont l’une des formes les plus répandues de la violence faite aux femmes. Elles se distinguent des insultes en général par sa vocation à viser un groupe social en particulier, soit les femmes. Grâce à l’utilisation de stéréotypes sexistes et racistes, elles ont propension à généralement réduire les femmes « à leurs seules caractéristiques sexuelles, pour les insulter et les dénigrer » (Jobin, 2015 : 154). Lorsque le racisme et la xénophobie s’y mêlent, la violence est d’autant plus significative…

 Femmes racisées et membres de la communauté LGBTQ+ : à l’intersection des violences

Selon Sarah Labarre (2015), l’anonymat que peut offrir les réseaux sociaux numériques permet un déferlement de violence masculiniste. La cyberviolence peut parfois prendre des formes subtiles, telles que « la négation de la violence faite aux femmes ou le dénigrement de leurs capacités (physiques comme intellectuelles) » (Jobin, 2015 : 159). D’autres fois, elle est plus directe et se concrétise par des insultes sexistes ou le mépris du corps féminin (Jobin, 2015). Les femmes vont donc plus fréquemment subir des attaques sur leur apparence et sur leur vie intime, attaques qui se distancent complètement de leurs propos et idées. De plus, dans une perspective intersectionnelle, les femmes racisées et membres de la communauté LGBTQ+ font face à une cyberviolence d’autant plus importante. Dans un texte collectif publié le 6 mars 2015 dans Le Devoir, plusieurs femmes ont indiqué que la « violence misogyne prend une consonance particulière quand elle s’exerce avec des accents racistes, islamophobes, xénophobes, transphobes ou lesbophobes » (Le Devoir, 2015) sur les réseaux sociaux numériques. À ce propos, Rima Elkouri, chroniqueuse au Journal La Presse, mentionne que depuis 15 ans de chronique, il ne se passe pas une semaine sans qu’elle reçoive des commentaires sexistes ou racistes, ou les deux à la fois. Selon elle, la banalisation de ce discours est dangereuse : « S’habituer à se faire crier des noms tous les jours, ce n’est pas normal » (La Presse, 2017). Également, Judith Lussier, auteure et chroniqueuse, estime que « les sujets de ses chroniques, le féminisme et l’homosexualité, l’ont particulièrement exposée aux paroles violentes » (Radio-Canada, 2017).

Quelles sont les solutions ?

Cette violence obstrue la mobilisation sur le web, devenu l’espace de communication de prédilection. S’avère-t-il donc nécessaire d’élaborer des pistes de solutions tangibles individuelles, étatiques et sociétales. Bailey Poland, dans son ouvrage « Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online » (2016), propose des possibles actions à entreprendre pour faire face à la cyberviolence sexiste. Elle présente, notamment, le développement et la création de nouveaux espaces ou réseaux, le signalement des cyberharceleurs sexistes, la modification des paramètres de confidentialité et la modération des commentaires (Poland, 2016). Elle mentionne également le blocage ou le mise en sourdine des cyberharceleurs bien que l’auteure admet que cette dernière solution peut restreindre également les activités des femmes, les forçant à se concentrer davantage sur le « filtrage » plutôt que sur la création de contenu et les obligeant à entretenir des contacts réguliers et répété avec les ces derniers (Poland, 2016).

Les femmes ayant signé le texte collectif dans Le Devoir (2015), mentionné précédemment, s’accordent avec l’auteure. Pour elles, « répondre aux commentaires sexistes demande beaucoup d’énergie » et alimentent les cyberharceleurs masculinistes et anti-féministes. Elles abordent donc des pistes de solution plutôt étatiques, sociétales et structurelles :  elles mentionnent la nécessité d’entreprendre une réflexion collective et une dénonciation publique dans le but de faire du Web, un endroit respectueux. Également, selon elles, des cours d’éducation numérique dans les écoles pourraient être intégrés aux parcours scolaires, ainsi que l’adoption de politiques concernant les contenus publiés en vue d’une meilleure pratique de la modération. Les comités éditoriaux sur les plateformes numériques pourraient prendre en main ces problématiques et instaurer des politiques claires quant à la cyberviolence.

Bibliographie

Blais, Melissa (2012). « Y a-t-il un « cycle de la violence antiféministe »? Les effets de l’antiféminisme selon les féministes québécoises », Cahiers du Genre, no 52, 167-195.

Jobin, Mathieu (2015). « Cyberviolence : le discours masculiniste sur les femmes », 147-162, Chap. In Blais, Mélissa et Francis Dupuis-Déri (dir). (2015). Le mouvement masculiniste au Québec : l’antiféminisme démasqué, Montréal : Édition Remue-Ménage.

Labarre, Sarah (2015). « Les féministes, les réseaux sociaux et le masculinisme : guide de survie dans un No Woman’s Land », 163-182, Chap. In Blais, Mélissa et Francis Dupuis-Déri (dir). (2015). Le mouvement masculiniste au Québec : l’antiféminisme démasqué, Montréal : Édition Remue-Ménage, 320 pages.

Poland, Bailey (2016). Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online. Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press.

By Meenu Sikand, founder of the Accessibility for All (AfA), is a Canadian immigrant of South-Asian origin. She brings 30 years of personal and professional experience advancing the disability agenda nationally and globally with a passion to improve employment situation of Women with Disabilities (WWD), as she knows first-hand the accessibility barriers that prevent persons with disabilities (PWD) from achieving their full human potential.

December 3rd is celebrated worldwide as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). In 1992, the United Nations General Assembly designated this day to increase understanding and awareness of disability issues and the abilities of persons with disabilities; promote the full and effective participation in society for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. The World Bank estimates that 20% of the world’s poorest people have some kind of disability, and that they tend to be regarded in their own communities as the most disadvantaged. Over one billion people face barriers to inclusion in society because of inaccessibility. Approximately 300 million women and girls around the world have an intellectual, mental, sensory, and/or physical disability. Globally, women make up three quarters of the disabled population in low and middle income countries. Yet disability as a whole has remained largely invisible in the mainstream development agenda and is largely ignored by policy makers and funding agencies.

Around the world, physical, social, economic, informational and attitudinal barriers prevent persons with disabilities from participating fully and effectively as equal members of society. They are disproportionately represented among the world's poorest individuals and lack equal access to basic resources, such as education, employment, healthcare and social protection under the legal support systems. Women with disabilities are recognized to be doubly disadvantaged, experiencing exclusion because of their gender and their disability. A World Bank study showed that women with disabilities are more likely to be victims of violence or rape than non-disabled women, and they are less likely to obtain police intervention, legal protection, or prophylactic care. A 2004 survey in Orissa, India, found that virtually all of the women and girls with disabilities were beaten at home, 25% of women with intellectual disabilities had been raped, and 6% of women with disabilities had been forcibly sterilized. Gender-based violence (GBV) exists even in progressive countries such as Canada, where approximately every six days, a woman is killed by her intimate partner. Populations such as disabled, indigenous, LGBTQ2 & seniors are at a higher risk to experience GBV due to the unique barriers they face because of their disabilities, which tend to isolate them from support networks.

Women with physical and cognitive disabilities experience violence two to three times more often than women without disabilities. 16% of Canadian women have a disability and 60% of women with disabilities (WWD) reported to experience some form of violence. According to the DisAbled Women Network of Canada, WWD experience the same types of violence as other women, however, they are further disadvantaged due to inaccessible shelters and support services that do not have adequate funding and resources to provide disability related accommodations such as barrier free rooms, washrooms, transportation, sign language interpreters, TTY and personal support workers etc. Only 1 out of 10 disabled women received the disability support services they needed in order to escape a violent and unsafe relationship, which force the victims to stay and endure emotional abuse from their family, partners and caregivers at home or in institutions. Due to their physical, financial and emotional dependency WWD are exposed to abuse by family members and caregivers.  Lack of access also prevents WWD from reporting the abuse.

Accessibility for All (AfA) proudly supports WIIS-Canada’s 16-day of Activism against Gender Based Violence Campaign and commemorates the IDPD by highlighting the violence experienced by WWD in Canada and globally. With the introduction of the new Federal accessibility legislation, AfA is looking forward to partner with government and women’s organizations and community leaders to remove accessibility barriers for all women experiencing GBV including those with a disability.

Par Julie-Maude Beauchesne, Candidate au doctorat en politique et histoire internationale, Université de Montréal

Près de 50% des personnes lesbiennes, gaies, bisexuelle, ou trans du Québec ne s’estiment pas en sécurité pour être en mesure de divulguer leur orientation sexuelle ou leur identité de genre au travail ou à l’école. Alors que le thème de la campagne annuelle « 16 jours d’activisme contre la violence de genre » porte cette année sur la violence de genre dans le monde du travail, de FÉSI-Canada a souhaité que les enjeux sécuritaire liées à la divulgation de l’orientation sexuelle et l’identité de genre soient également mis en lumière.

Au cours des deux dernières décennies, les personnes issues des communautés LGBT (lesbiennes, gaies, bisexuelles et trans) ont enfin obtenu l’égalité juridique au Québec et au Canada par l’entremise d’une série de législations permettant, notamment, le mariage entre conjoints de même sexe, reconnaissant l’identité et l’expression de genre comme motifs de discrimination et en facilitant grandement les changements de la mention de sexe sur les certificats de naissance[1].

On pourrait alors se dire que tout est désormais réglé pour les personnes issues des minorités sexuelles. Minorité importante, puisque l’on estime que 13% de la population s’identifie à l’une ou plusieurs de ces réalités.  Malheureusement, le constat est tout autre. Malgré ces grandes avancées au niveau de l’égalité juridique, sur la question de l’égalité sociale, de grands pas restent encore à faire afin d’en arriver à l’acceptation pleine et entière des personnes LGBT.

Voici quelques statistiques qui donnent des frissons. En 2017, la Fondation Jasmin Roy rendait public un sondage commandé à la firme CROP révélant qu’encore aujourd’hui, au Québec, près d’une personne LGBT sur deux (50%) étaient dans le placard dans leur milieu de travail et/ou à l’école en ce qui concerne la divulgation de leur orientation sexuelle ou leur identité de genre[2].

Malgré l’acceptation de plus en plus grande de la diversité sexuelle, plus de 80 % des répondants disent « avoir ressenti ou ressentir des sentiments de désarroi, de solitude, d’isolement ou de découragement liés à leur orientation sexuelle ou à leur identité de genre », et 75 % révèlent avoir déjà été « victimes d’intimidation, de menaces ou de commentaires blessants ou désobligeants ». Près de 60 % des répondants affirment avoir été victime de violence en milieu scolaire et 33 % en milieu de travail.

Impact sur la santé mentale

Dans un article publié en 2016 dans la revue Santé mentale au Québec[3], les chercheuses Marie Geoffroy et Line Chamberland étayaient une large revue de littérature. Le constat est le même pour l’ensemble des recherches effectuées : les personnes LGBT ont une moins bonne santé mentale que les populations hétérosexuelles en raison de cette discrimination et violence vécue au quotidien, en milieu scolaire ou en milieu de travail, la plupart du temps.

Cette violence se produit sous plusieurs formes. Elle peut aller de blagues et de commentaires homophobes et transphobes, jusqu’à l’intimidation et la dévalorisation. Et cela a un impact important sur la santé mentale des personnes provenant des minorités sexuelles. C’est ce qui expliquerait pourquoi une proportion importante de gais, lesbiennes et personnes bisexuelles ne divulguent pas leur orientation sexuelle au travail. Car près de 60 % d’entre eux estiment que leur orientation sexuelle constitue un obstacle majeur dans leur vie professionnelle.

Si divulguer son orientation sexuelle peut avoir des retombées positives et entrainer une bien meilleure estime de soi, lorsque fait dans un environnement de travail accueillant, l’effet est tout aussi négatif lorsque cette sortie de placard se fait dans un environnement hostile. Une étude des chercheurs Élodie Charbonnier et Pierluigi Graziani, publiée en 2013 dans la revue Service social[4], signale que l’annonce de l’orientation sexuelle dans un milieu perçu comme défavorable est un des stresseurs qui contribueraient au taux de tentative de suicide passablement élevé au sein de cette population, lequel étant estimé entre 12 et 17%.

Quant aux personnes trans, le taux de tentative avoisinerait le chiffre catastrophique de 40% en raison de la difficulté de faire accepter leur identité et leur expression de genre par leur entourage. La majorité des personnes trans devant faire leur transition d’un sexe à l’autre en milieu scolaire ou de travail, le stress causé par la non-acceptation de leur identité de genre est l’une des principales causes des idées suicidaires et tentatives de suicide, révèlent Geoffroy et Chamberland. Dans leur cas, on parle carrément de congédiement, de refus d’embauche, voire d’absence de promotion.

 Des actions à prendre

Selon le rapport de consultation du Groupe de travail mixte contre l’homophobie, publié en 2007[5], le milieu de travail québécois offrirait généralement peu de soutien aux personnes LGBT victimes de gestes discriminants et les entreprises ne seraient que trop peu enclines à mettre en place des mécanismes pour empêcher que ne se reproduisent des situations similaires.

Depuis, le gouvernement du Québec a mis sur pied, dans ses plans d’action de lutte contre l’homophobie et la transphobie de 2011 et de 2017[6], une stratégie afin de soutenir les personnes victimes de harcèlement et de discrimination, notamment en milieu de travail. Un guide sur les droits des personnes face à l’homophobie en milieu de travail a été réalisé et constitue un soutien pour les employeurs, les syndicats et les organismes de défense des droits des travailleuses et des travailleurs ou de défense des droits des minorités sexuelles.

Plusieurs entreprises, dont certaines grandes chaines ou multinationales, ont adopté depuis une politique qui prohibe la discrimination et les comportements phobiques envers les personnes LGBT. Mais ces stratégies sont encore minoritaires et le sont encore plus au sein des petites et moyennes entreprises.

Il reste donc beaucoup de chemin à faire afin que les lesbiennes, gais, bisexuelles et trans puissent jouir d’une pleine égalité sociale et se sentir en sécurité au travail, au même titre que le reste de la population. La sensibilisation des employeurs face à leur responsabilité d’offrir un environnement sécuritaire à ce chapitre, constitue l’axe central de la prévention de la violence et de la discrimination en milieu de travail.

[1]   Au Québec, si les notions d’identité et d’expression de genre ont été incluses dans la Charte des droits et libertés de la personne et qu’il est possible de changer légalement la mention de sexe sur son certificat de naissance par simple déclaration sur l’honneur avec témoin, il est à noter que les immigrants et résidents permanents, contrairement à ce qui se fait dans les autres provinces canadiennes, ne peuvent pas faire une telle demande de changement à l’État civil. De plus, les enfants de parents qui ont changé de sexe après leur naissance ne peuvent voir leur parent modifier la mention de sexe sur leur certificat de naissance, laissant ainsi place à des incongruités où un « père » peut être une femme et vice-versa, laissant l’enfant devoir gérer par lui-même ces situation embarrassantes et discriminantes. Le gouvernement du Québec fait face actuellement à des poursuites judiciaires sur ces deux questions.

[2] Fondation Jasmin Roy, Sondage réalités LGBT, En ligne : fondationjasminroy.com/initiative/sondage-realites-lgbt/

[3] Geoffroy, Marie et Chamberland, Line « Discrimination des minorités sexuelles et de genre au travail : quelles implications pour la santé mentale ? ». Santé mentale au Québec 40, no 3 (2015) : 145–172. https://doi.org/10.7202/1034916ar

[4] Charbonnier, Élodie et Graziani, Pierluigi « Stress, risque suicidaire et annonce de son homosexualité ». Service social 59, no 1 (2013) : 1–16. https://doi.org/10.7202/1017476ar

[5] Groupe de travail mixte contre l’homophobie (2007). De l’égalité juridique à l’égalité sociale : Vers une stratégie nationale de lutte contre l’homophobie. En ligne : www.cdpdj.qc.ca/publications/rapport_homophobie.pdf

[6] Justice Québec, La lutte contre l’homophobie et la transphobie, En ligne : www.justice.gouv.qc.ca/ministere/la-lutte-contre-lhomophobie-et-la-transphobie/

By Allan English, Associate Professor in Canadian Military History at the Queen’s University History Department.

“Op[eration] Honour” is the capstone document that articulates publicly the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) response to the Deschamps report, “External Review into Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces,” which identified serious problems related to the culture of the CAF. Justice Marie Deschamps concluded that sexual harassment and sexual assault were the result of an “underlying sexualized culture in the CAF that is hostile to women and LGTBQ members.” Operation Honour’s stated mission is to “eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour within the CAF.” As originally written, commencing in August 2015, over a 22-month period the CAF was to complete this mission. Despite some vague subsequent references to converting Operation Honour into an “ongoing, enduring mission,” the original plan specified in Operation Honour was for the CAF to be in a position to “Maintain and Hold” its required culture change “in perpetuity” starting on 1 July 2017.

However, just over five months into Operation Honour’s “Maintain & Hold” final phase, an event involving the senior leadership of the CAF gave us an indication of how successful Operation Honour had been in meeting its culture change goals, especially those related to rebuilding trust between CAF members and its senior leadership. The “party flight” was a series of incidents which occurred between 2 to 5 December 2017 as part of a “morale tour” planned by the CDS’s office. Two of the most senior leaders in the CAF, the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff and the CAF Chief Warrant Officer, as well as members of the CDS’s office, were among the 20 to 25 passengers on board. Afterwards, there were reports of partying in the aisles, extreme abuse of alcohol by some passengers, and cabin crew members being sexually harassed and inappropriately touched by some passengers. This resulted in two formal complaints of sexual assault by aircraft crew members, one of which is before the courts.

The perceived indifference of two of the most senior leaders in the CAF on board the flight, as well as the CDS’s initial reaction to the incidents – stating that “what happened on the flight might have been exaggerated” plus waiting two months to convene a formal investigation into the incidents – contributed to damaging perceptions of them. The message that many in the CAF and among the Canadian public will take from the “party flight” episode is that, despite Operation Honour being in effect for over two years, situations involving the abuse of alcohol that are associated with increased risk of sexual misconduct still occur in the CAF, even in the presence of its senior leadership.

Why Did Culture Change Not Occur? One of the principal reasons that Operation Honour did not produce the desired culture change was the lack of an overall strategy addressing the causes, not just the symptoms, of the CAF’s “sexualized culture.” Lacking this strategy, one year after its initiation, Operation Honour’s instructions on culture change were modified to be now “linked very closely” to other government diversity programs and particularly the CAF “Diversity Strategy” released in May 2016. This direction diluted Operation Honour’s emphasis from cultural change necessary to “eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour within the CAF” to “creating and fostering a culture of respect and inclusion for all CAF members.” This change of focus is typical of new initiatives displacing old ones or operational priorities derailing “non-operational imperatives” in past CAF change initiatives when no comprehensive strategy for change was created.

In addition, both Operation Honour and the “Diversity Strategy” rely on changing the CAF’s demographics to effect culture change, for example the Chief of the Defence Staff’s directive to have women make up 25 per cent of the armed forces in 2026. However, longstanding failures by the CAF recruiting and retention system, as documented by the Auditor General in three reports dating back to 2002, especially the absence of strategies to achieve its goals, will likely thwart any efforts to increase the diversity of the CAF:

…it is unlikely that the Regular Force will be able to reach the desired number of members by the 2018–19 fiscal year as planned. We also found that although the Canadian Armed Forces had established a goal of 25 percent for the representation of women, it did not set specific targets by occupation, nor did it have a strategy to achieve this goal.

Finally, the CAF’s hyper-masculine, sexualized warrior culture is one of the most deeply rooted causes of sexual misconduct in the CAF and a major barrier to culture change and diversity because of its emphasis on a narrow range of acceptable behaviours in a homogenous warrior culture. Without a clear strategy to change this culture, especially given the mixed signals being sent by senior members of the CAF, with statements like “harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour” must be eliminated while “upholding the warrior ethos,” it will almost certainly frustrate any culture change initiatives designed to eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour caused by the CAF’s current culture.

The Prognosis. Therefore, until the CAF adopts a long-term culture change strategy that can modify the values, attitudes and beliefs of its members, to complement the short-term bureaucratic methods used to date, any change will be ephemeral and inconsequential. Unless the CAF addresses the causes of its problems, not just their symptoms, and its actions are monitored by effective external oversight, the “comprehensive culture change” initiatives required by Justice Deschamps and acknowledged as necessary by the CAF are likely to meet the same fate as their predecessors – disappointment and future problems as the causes of the CAF’s sexualized, toxic culture remain in place.

Note: This blog is based on a paper by Allan English written for the IUS Canada Conference, Ottawa ON, 20-21 October 2018 titled “‘Comprehensive Culture Change’ and Diversity in the Canadian Armed Forces: An Assessment of Operation Honour after Three Years and Implications for the latest CAF ‘Diversity Strategy’” and which is available on request.

Femmes en sécurité internationale Canada

En cette Journée nationale de commémoration et d’action contre la violence faite aux femmes, nous nous rappelons les événements tragiques qui se sont déroulés le 6 décembre 1989 à l’École Polytechnique de l’Université de Montréal. Un homme, âgé de 25 ans, a ouvert le feu sur des étudiantes en génie mécanique. Il tua quatorze femmes, douze étudiantes en ingénierie, une étudiante en soins infirmiers et une employée de l’université, et blessa quatorze autres personnes, dont dix femmes. Les noms des victimes importent plus que celle du tueur : Sonia Pelletier. Maryse Laganière. Anne-Marie Edward. Annie St-Arneault. Annie Turcotte. Barbara Daigneault. Geneviève Bergeron. Hélène Colgan. Nathalie Croteau. Michèle Richard. Maud Haviernick. Anne-Marie Lemay. Maryse Leclair. Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.

Suite à la fusillade à l’École Polytechnique, un important débat pancanadien s’est amorcé pour améliorer le contrôle des armes à travers le pays. Le fait que ce débat est davantage porté sur des enjeux de sécurité publique a eu pour conséquence de mettre à l’arrière-plan une dimension cruciale, c’est-à-dire les croyances qui ont mené à la mort de ces quatorze femmes. Avant de tirer sur les étudiantes, le tueur s’est exclamé « J’haïs les féministes ! Vous êtes une bande de féministes ! » Ce sont des motifs misogynes qui ont motivé cet acte haineux. En 1991, le gouvernement du Canada a reconnu l’origine de ce drame en déclarant le 6 décembre comme Journée nationale de commémoration et d’action contre la violence faite aux femmes.

Les victimes de la tuerie de Polytechnique

Près de 30 ans après cette tragédie, les effets de la fusillade à la Polytechnique se font toujours sentir, et les femmes continuent d’être la cible de violences. L’attaque au camion-bélier à Toronto le 23 avril dernier est en est un exemple. Encore une fois, un jeune homme de 25 ans a commis cette atrocité. Il faisait partie de la communauté des « célibataires involontaires » (ou « incel ») une communauté en ligne d’extrême droite rassemblant des hommes croyant que leur célibat et leur virginité sont causés par les femmes, qui leur refusent du sexe qu’ils pensent leur être dû. Ce groupe de jeunes hommes en ligne font souvent appels au viol et au meurtre de femmes. Précédant son acte, l’attaqueur a publié sur les réseaux sociaux un message indiquant qu’il allait mener la rébellion « incel ».

Bien que l’attaque de Toronto, tout comme la Tuerie à la Polytechnique, aient été des événements isolés dans l’histoire canadienne, il n’empêche pas que le taux de fémicide demeure élevé au Canada. Au cours des six premiers mois de 2018, au moins 78 femmes ont été tuées suite à des actes de violence.  En plus de la violence conjugale commis par des partenaires intimes, d’autres groupes sont particulièrement à risque de violence fondée sur le genre. C’est notamment le cas des femmes et des filles autochtones qui sont surreprésentées comme victimes du fémicide. Alors qu’elles ne représentent que 4% de la population canadienne, les femmes autochtones représentaient 24% des victimes d’homicide en 2015, selon les données de l’Observatoire canadien du fémicide pour la justice et la responsabilisation.  D’autres violences sexuelles continuent de faire des victimes au Canada. En 2015, des milliers de victimes d’agressions sexuelles avaient brisé le silence sur les médias sociaux dans la foulée du scandale entourant l’animateur de radio Jian Ghomeshi avec le mot-clic #BeenRapedNeverReported (J’ai été violée, je ne l’ai jamais dénoncé.) Le mouvement en français #AgressionNonDénoncée avait également connu beaucoup d’ampleur au Québec.

Les femmes sont confrontées à la misogynie au quotidien, mais comme l’a dit Bardish Chagger, la chef parlementaire du parti libéral : « On pense parfois que ces choses ne sont pas importantes, mais elles le sont. » Elles le sont. La violence faite aux femmes est bien plus présente et bien plus pernicieuse qu’elle n’y paraît. Toutes ses formes de violences envoient le message qu’à cause de leur sexe ou de leur genre, les femmes sont inférieures à l’homme. La Journée nationale de commémoration et d’action contre la violence faite aux femmes sert donc de rappel que les femmes font toujours face, de façon constante et permanente, à de la violence fondée sur le sexe au Canada.

Commémorer les événements de la Tuerie à la Polytechnique est important. Participer aux vigiles du 6 décembre organisées à travers le pays nous sert à avoir des discussions qui sont centrales pour mettre fin à la violence faite aux femmes, que cette violence soit ciblée, verbale, sociétale, individuelle ou collective. Les étudiantes de l’École Polytechnique ont été tuées car elles étaient des femmes étudiant en ingénierie. Les victimes de l’attaque de Toronto sont mortes car certains individus pensent que le rôle des femmes est d’offrir aux hommes de la jouissance sexuelle. Des femmes sont agressées verbalement, physiquement et sexuellement pour la simple raison qu’elles sont des femmes. Remémorons-nous ces événements pour ne pas oublier ces victimes et reconnaître les impacts de la violence faite aux femmes sur notre société.

Aujourd’hui est non seulement une journée de commémoration, mais aussi d’action. Des campagnes comme celles des 16 Jours d’activisme contre la violence de genre sont importantes pour sensibiliser la population à la vaste gamme de violence fondée sur le genre auxquelles les Canadiennes sont exposées. La campagne sert également à illustrer le travail exceptionnel réalisé par plusieurs associations qui oeuvrent en première ligne pour venir en aide aux victimes de violence fondée sur le genre. Parmi celles-ci, il y a les refuges qui accueillent des femmes et des enfants victimes de violence domestique ; d’autres qui sensibilisent la population sur les problèmes de harcèlements en milieu de travail ou dans la rue. Il existe également des organisations telles que White Ribbon, la plus grande organisation au monde menée par des hommes qui vise à mettre fin à la violence faite aux femmes ; d’autres qui cherchent à éduquer les enfants à ne pas commettre de violence.

Commémorer les victimes de la Polytechnique et agir contre la violence faite aux femmes est une façon d’honorer la vie des femmes victimes de violence et de continuer à lutter pour un monde plus juste.

Rédigé par : Charlotte Duval-Lantoine

By Bushra Ebadi, Global Security & Politics Research Associate, Centre for International Governance Innovation, Executive Member and Youth Advisory Group Member, CCNUSCO

Over 68.5 million have been displaced globally, including over 25 million refugees. Women and girls comprise about half of the refugee population globally. And while there is a lack of comprehensive data on the rates of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) experienced by refugees, it is widely acknowledged that refugee women and girls are particularly vulnerable as a result of broken social and protective networks.

In fact, a CBC investigative report revealed that more than 15% of asylum claims filed in Canada by women cited gender persecution and violence between 2013-2017. Gender based violence, and violence more broadly speaking, are not explicitly listed as criteria for determining refugee status in the 1951 Refugee Convention and its Protocol. Instead, some states may interpret the criteria of ‘the persecution of a social group’ to include the persecution of individuals on the basis of their gender, arguing that gender constitutes an ‘innate characteristic’ on which a social group claim can be made. Not only do refugees often experience violence at each stage of their journey, but the very violence that may have displaced them in the first place, may not be factored into the assessment of their asylum claims.

If we are to develop effective responses and solutions to meet the different needs of refugee women, girls, men, boys, and gender and sexual diversities (GSDs), the gendered dynamics of forcible displacement must be acknowledged. And in order to do so we must go beyond rhetoric. Gender mainstreaming and gender responsive policy remain aspirational and elusive in most humanitarian, development, and rights policies. Bartolomei and Pittaway argue “that without the political will and the resources to develop and implement policy and practices to address the structural vulnerabilities that underpin pervasive gender inequalities, gender mainstreaming will continue to flounder.”

Policies that claim to be feminist may do more harm than good when they instrumentalize gender equality as a means to achieving broader security and development objectives. Gender equality should be an objective in and of itself. Addressing SGBV should be a core component of policies advancing gender equality. Bartolomei and Pittaway further argue that “the development of effective responses to SGBV is the key to women’s protection and empowerment and to gender equality in both refugee and host communities. It is a precursor to their full and effective participation in developing durable solutions.”

Canada’s Feminist International Development Assistance Policy is hailed as an example of progressive policymaking. While it rightly emphasizes gender equality as its core objective, the way in which it sets out to achieve gender equality and tackle SGBV falls short. For example, the policy claims that it aims to “help address unpaid work and the disproportionate burden of care shouldered by women”, it does not explicitly set out to address the issue of unpaid internships within the multilateral system, to which the Canadian government provides financial support. Why is this important? The majority of unpaid associate experts and interns in the United Nations are women. An investigation of allegations of harassment against women in the African Union Commission found that youth volunteers and interns were most vulnerable and exposed to sexual exploitation and abuse. The very individuals responsible for assisting refugees and other displaced populations within these institutions are vulnerable to SGBV, often lacking official status and benefits themselves.

When we say investing in women and girls benefits their communities, we (sometimes unconsciously) develop metrics and indicators that fail to actually assess the success of policies and programs purporting to achieve gender equality, and instead measuring benefits to communities, economies, and countries writ large. And in actuality, we are not really saying that investing in women and girls benefits their communities; this would be redundant since these investments should in fact benefit them. Instead, what we are really saying is that investing in women and girls benefits the rest of the community; a community they are often marginalized and excluded from.

International humanitarian and development assistance policies and programs must ensure that the arguments they make for investing in women and girls do not undermine their agency and intrinsic value. Women and girls are not valuable [solely] because, when equipped with resources and opportunities, they support others in their community, regardless of their gender or age. When organizations make these types of arguments, they risk marginalizing and undervaluing women and girls. Essentially rendering them invisible, regardless of their status.

Rendering people invisible, so that their needs, aspirations, and very existence are ignored or denied inflicts a type of violence on them that is rarely discussed. The rates of SGBV experienced by refugee women, girls, men, boys, and sexual and gender diversities remain unknown, because for far too long these individuals have experienced a life of invisibility, where their experiences and needs are unaccounted for and in some cases deemed to be inconsequential. This is the violence of invisibility.

As we watch social media and other movements emerge, we must move beyond #hearmetoo to real gender mainstreaming and responsive policies and programming. SGBV is an endemic issue; unless we acknowledge all members of society, we will fail to account for their experiences and realize solutions that work for them.

By Victoria Heath (Digital Storyteller, Institute for Gender and the Economy (GATE), Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto)

A friend recently retired abruptly from the U.S. Army. Confused, I called her to find out why. Sensing apprehension, I asked about her kids and the dog before probing further. At first, there was only silence. Then, a frustrated exhale, and finally, a matter-of-fact response, “I reported some sexual harassment that was going on–and they strongly implied that I could either drop it and protect my career, or retire early.”

What is GBA+?

On International Human Rights Day, we mark the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights by the UN in 1948. A historical triumph that is even more amazing and precious when measured against our current political environment; and as #MeToo continues to publicly expose the gender-based violence (GBV) experienced at work, many are looking for tools to respond and prevent GBV by promoting gender equality. One of the tools that has been utilized across governments since the early 1990s, including Canada since 1995, is Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+). Status of Women Canada defines GBA+ as “an analytical tool used to assess how diverse groups of women, men and gender-diverse people may experience policies, programs and initiatives. The “plus” in GBA+ acknowledges that GBA goes beyond biological (sex) and socio-cultural (gender) differences.”

Applying GBA+ to security

This past November, Status of Women Canada gathered members of government and civil society to strategize how to make GBA+ more effective. During a panel titled “Applying GBA+ to Security,” panelists analyzed how GBA+ can be used to inform policies around security and safety. Panelist Lisa Vandehei, Director of Gender, Diversity and Inclusion for Canadian National Defence emphasized the importance of GBA+ in military operations saying, “[We must] understand that who you are is a very important driver in how you experience conflict...Every military in the world needs to get this right.” The panelists also shared the challenges of implementing GBA+ in a male-dominated and hyper-masculine sector.

Vaughn Charlton, A/Director General of Workforce Culture and Gender-based Analysis at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), recounted that while previously working at Status of Women, “We would always say, Your GBA focal point should absolutely not be in your HR (human resources) unit or your employment equity unit, it’s not about employment equity. It’s about applying an analytical lens to your policies, to your programs [and] to your legislation.’”

To her surprise however, her current work is in the RCMP’s HR unit. “There’s really no question that policing remains very male-dominated...and I started to learn that HR there was probably one of the most meaningful places that we could be doing GBA+,” she explained, “We’re being asked to examine our culture, and to change our culture… and I think that at the RCMP, introducing GBA+ has given people a framework to think about that.”

However, despite decades of wishful thinking and the utilization of tools like GBA+, security institutions (e.g. military, policing, etc.) are still ripe with power dynamics that keep women and gender-diverse people under threat of GBV. In 2018 for example, a report found that in the U.S. military, there were 500 reported incidents of sexual assault in one year. A 2016 report found that there were nearly 1000 reported incidents in the Canadian military in one year.

Interestingly, the U.S. report found that “Each service member’s estimated risk of being sexually assaulted in the next year depends, to a surprising extent, on his or her duty assignment to a particular unit, command, and installation.” In particular, “Of the 15 highest-risk installations for Navy women, 13 are ships or clusters of ships…”

This finding relates to the work of panelist Nico Pau, Director of Engineering Support for the Canadian Coast Guard, who discussed how his team is using GBA+ to build new vessels for the Canadian fleet. Although GBA+ would inform the production of new inclusive physical structures, safe spaces, and budgetary measures, it wouldn’t necessarily change the power dynamics or the culture on those ships that allow abusive behavior to fester in the first place; and that is precisely one of the problems with the historical and present application of GBA+.

Can GBA+ fix bad policy?

In its most idealized form, GBA+ should inform better policy making and program development to ensure equal access and outcomes across identity factors. However, there’s a very important caveat to keep in mind with GBA+, something journalist (and notable skeptic) Tristan Hopper pointed out in the National Post: “It can’t fix bad policy, it can just make it more equitable.” In other words, GBA+ is just a tool put to use by individuals working within systems and structures, and if those systems and structures are inherently biased, discriminatory, or non-representative, then GBA+ will not result in the desired outcomes. This is an idea that panelist Kassandra Churcher, National Executive Director at the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS), touched on while speaking about criminalized women in the corrections system.

“Once their crimes of survival are criminalized by a police system, a judicial system, and a corrections system that was developed on a construct of patriarchy, they are then a huge security concern. Then wallets open up; then budgets are discussed…The very same concept of security within the corrections system translates women’s needs into security risks. So what [happens] is the failures of providing safety and security of what they need and how they would define it, become the barriers; and challenges; and punitive measures that we see in our carceral system....We are working within a structure that was never made for women. We have to think about rebuilding the structure; the systems.”

GBA+ should thus be utilized alongside other initiatives that push for systemic change across and within organizations and institutions (e.g. anti-oppression training, quotas, accountability and transparency measures, capacity-building, etc.). U.S. Army Colonel Michael Hosie wrote last year that for the military, and the security sector more broadly, this especially entails busting the “myth of meritocracy” and identifying institutional biases that feed discrimination, abuse, and inequality.

To eradicate GBV and gender discrimination, we need to fix our systems

It may not surprise you that there is a whole website dedicated to addressing sexual violence in the U.S. Army. Even without a legal degree, a user can confidently conclude that the official policy isn’t to pressure victims (ie. my friend) to either drop accusations or leave the military. However, that has historically happened, and is still happening because the toxicity ingrained in the system (such as gender discrimination) has yet to be flushed out, and that renders GBA+ essentially DOA.

In her final speech at the GBA+ Forum, Minister Maryam Monsef stated, “Ultimately, GBA+ is about people.” And, she’s right – it is about people. People living and working within systems, structures, and even cultures that in many cases weren’t built by them or for them, and therefore do not always serve them.

And therein lies the impetus for change that goes beyond simply utilizing GBA+.

As Lynda Gullason, Adjunct Research Professor at Carleton University wrote in 2017 following the Canadian government’s announcement of its GBA+ implementation plan, “The fundamental goal of gender-based analysis must actually be gender equity. And that is only achieved when discriminatory policies and practices are corrected...Even worse than taking no action is to claim to be correcting gender discrimination, but doing nothing of the kind.”

Blogging for the 16 Days Canada Campaign 2017/Blogue pour la Campagne canadienne des 16 jours de 2017

By: Kirsten Van Houten, Ph.D. Candidate, School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa

The disproportionate impact of the ongoing crises on women and the role of gender and other inequalities as a root cause of conflicKivut necessitate the inclusion of strong female voices in peace processes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Yet, both formal and informal structural barriers continue to limit the participation of women in peacebuilding processes. This post explores how two local civil society organizations are challenging these barriers through education in South Kivu.

On December 6, 2017 Rebecca Boyce’s blog post, written for the 16Days campaign on the Women, Peace and Security Network website. highlighted how women in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo have increasingly mobilized to confront ongoing sexual and gender based violence and to remember lives lost. National legislation exists in the DRC that formally recognizes equality between women and men, that prohibits sexual and gender-based violence and ensures the participation of women in peacebuilding processes. Despite the increase of women’s mobilization around these issues across the country, as highlighted in Boyce’s post, sgbv continues and women’s voices are often marginalized and absent from formalized peacebuilding processes. In order to ensure that legally guaranteed gender equality and protection against violence are formally and informally integrated into the transition towards peace.

During my doctoral fieldwork in South Kivu I had the opportunity to observe how local civil society organizations were integrating women into their peacebuilding efforts. Women’s roles within each of these organizations were limited due to structural and social barriers. The contributions of female staff members were often limited to projects and programming focussed on delivering assistance to or engaging other women, which only represented a small portion of the organizations’ activities. As a result the voices and needs were not being integrated in to other peacebuilding endeavours. Further,there were generally fewer women in the staff of these organizations than men and they were often subjected to informal comments about their gender and their inferiority to men.

Some of the barriers related to the successful integration of these women into the organizations’ strategies was directly linked to the perceived or actual educational status of women. One of the organization’s noted that when they were hiring for the position of a videographer, that they had been eager to hire a woman but their funder had required someone with a University degree fill the position. As a result of this requirement, only men applied to the position. It was also apparent across the three organizations that some men were either unaware of the existence of formal legal guarantees of gender equality or showed an unwillingness to accept the laws and adopt the approach in their professional lives. More than one male participant in my research directly expressed their belief in the natural inferiority of women to me during my fieldwork.

Interestingly, two of the three organizations were implementing programs that specifically addressed these dynamics. The first project was offered by an organization with a focus on dialogue and reconciliation. The organization had established literacy circles in many of the communities that they worked in which were mostly attended by women. Historically girls’ enrollment in schools has been much lower across the DRC because of gender inequality which is reflected in the high levels of participation in literacy circles. Through the evaluation of these initiatives the project’s manager discovered that the inability to read and write acted as a barrier to the participation of these women in public spaces and public discussion. Historically community leaders had used the lack of education as a justification to exclude women from dialogue including around peacebuilding. As a result, the project manager decided to integrate public speaking and presentation skills into the literacy circles in order to facilitate the participation of women in public forums at the community level.

A second project that sought to address these challenges was run by a human rights and justice organization. It was oriented towards educating both men and women about the gender equality guaranteed under Congolese laws on topics including inheritance, education and sexual and gender-based violence. The provision of these courses sought to challenge the legitimacy of formal barriers to the participation of women in public life and pubic forums.

These projects create the opportunity for an increased participation in women in community-level peacebuilding and reconciliation processes by educating the population about legal guarantees of gender equality and by providing women with the skills that they need to participate in public forums. While recent achievements such as the participation of women’s groups in the peace talks in the Kasai region, women bust continue to be empowered to consistently and fully participate in these processes.

Public education about women’s rights and gender equality and the reinforcement of women’s literacy and public speaking skills can create the foundation to support the engagement of women in peacebuilding processes, including within local civil society organizations.

By: Carolyn Washington

The 2000 landmark adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security has done much to call attention to the sexual and gender based violence that disproportionately effects women during conflict.  However, male rape victims have been somewhat invisible.

In the war in the former Yugoslavia, some 3,000 men and boys were raped in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995.  A 2009 study by Lara Stemple found that 76% of male political prisoners in El Salvador in the 1980’s reported being raped or sexually tortured.  According to a survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 40% of women and 23% of men in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo were subjected to sexual violence. And male rape has been documented in the abuses committed by U.S. forces at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq.

As Joshua Goldstein put it in his 2003 book How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice Versa,: “Rape is a crime of domination and war has everything to do with domination.”  The feminization of the enemy is “symbolic domination.”  Thus, men are feminized through sexual violence.  “As a symbolic form of rape, armed violence genders the victor as male and the vanquished as female.”

Why are male rape victims invisible? 

     James Asbrand, a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) psychologist explains, “the rape of a male soldier has a particular symbolism.”  In a hyper-masculinized culture, the worst thing that one man can do to another is to rape him and force him into a “feminine role.”  And according to Betty Reardon in her book Sexism and the War System, (1985) Rape is “the ultimate metaphor for the war system”.    Several factors account for why in spite of the documentation of widespread sexual violence perpetrated against men, they remain invisible victims.

    Male-on-male sexual contact as taboo.   Many societies consider sexual contact between two males as evidence of homosexuality, regardless of whether there is coercion or force.  In Uganda, male rape victims choose not to report sexual violence because they fear being labeled as gay.   This makes it difficult for men to report sexual violence and receive treatment.  Men who disclose their victimization face the risk of violating the honor of their family and community.

     Gender roles within social hierarchies.  Men are expected to employ violence, while women are the recipients of such violence.  Therefore, women are the victims and men are the perpetrators.  In conflict situations, rape against men reverses this phenomenon, placing men in the receiving and therefore, victim’s role.  As a victim, he is no longer a man.  Wives have often left their husbands upon discovering that they have been violated.  “So now how am I going to live with him? As what? Is this still a husband? Is it a wife? If he can be raped, who is protecting me?”  Another gendered difference is that violations against men are normally masked as torture, as opposed to sexual violence.

Lack of a legal framework.  Sexual violence against males is not recognized in some countries, particularly where prohibitions against homosexuality exist.  Even when legal remedies are in place, prosecutors and juries are not always willing to view male sexual violence seriously.  Sentencing patterns at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) show that perpetrators of sexual violence against men receive shorter sentences than those who commit violence against women.

The Way Ahead 

In spite of extensive documentation, such as those cited above, it wasn’t until 2013 when the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2106, that it even acknowledged that men and boys also suffer from sexual violence in conflict.  Callum Watson notes that what is required is an international effort much like the Women, Peace and Security agenda, to focus on the specific needs of male victims.

To correct the problem of the lack of attention to male sexual violence in international policy, some UN agencies have already begun to implement programs.  For example, in 2012 the UN High Commissioner for Refugees offered guidance in a publication entitled Working with Men and Boys Survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Forced Displacement.  However, such efforts have not been institutionalized as part of an overall agenda.  An important question is-how can both domestic and international policies be more inclusive in addressing the needs of male victims of sexual violence?

And finally, in the protection of both male and female victims of sexual violence, Carine Mardorossian provides another solution in her article Toward a New Feminist Theory of Rape.  She argues that as opposed to gendering rape, a more productive approach is one which interrogates the structural relations between masculinity and femininity.

Each year, Women in International Security (WIIS)-Canada spearheads the Canadian national campaign for the international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence. Between November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and December 10, the International Day of Human Rights, there are activities taking place all over the world, and WIIS-Canada coordinates the campaign to support activities across Canada.

So why blog? Well, the campaign is aimed primarily at awareness raising. We want to get the word out, as far and wide as possible, by sharing the research and views of those who are engaged with these issues. By pubishing these blog posts we simply aim to have as many people as possible read about some key issues of gender-based violence, and the work being done to prevent or end it.

Feel free to share and re-post these blog posts on your social media, to help spread the word about the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, and to get as many people as possible thinking about these issues.