Stop sexual assault
Mayor deems April 2-8 Sexual Assault Awareness Week
Mayor Pat Fiacco officially proclaimed this week as Sexual Assault Awareness Week in the City of Regina. This week, which started on Monday and runs until Sunday,has been dedicated to raising awareness of sexual assault amongst the public, while supporting the throngs of sexual assault victims.
To launch Sexual Assault Awareness Week in Regina, members of the Regina Women’s Centre went to Scarth Street Mall on Monday, April 2, to distribute magnets bearing the message “Stop Sexual Assault.” The magnets, which were given to the public free of charge, were meant to help raise awareness of the prevalent issue of sexual assault.
But, many might wonder, is it really enough to hand out magnets? In a time where slacktivism is almost deemed acceptable (think KONY 2012), is donning a magnet sign on your refrigerator or car really an appropriate response to such a tender, endemic issue.
Dr. Rick Ruddell, associate professor of justice studies at the University of Regina, thinks it is a step in the right direction.
“It can’t hurt, can it?” he asked. “When agencies are handing out information like that, it can’t hurt. It can help people raise awareness.”
Ruddell also thinks that, in a time when there is so much activism and so many issues being brought to public attention, it is small acts like this that might be the most beneficial.
“One of the challenges is that there are so many other issues being raised,” he explained. “Like every week, there is something, another issue, and it’s hard for one single issue to get attention because we are bombarded with messages all the time.”
Sexual assault is a reality for 29 per cent of children under the age of 18, and the Regina Women’s Centre and Sexual Assault Line get roughly 2,500 calls a year, yet only an estimated 8 per cent of sexual assault incidents are reported to the police.
Moreover, sexual assault is something people just don’t like talking about. Thus, perhaps in the instance of sexual assault awareness – a taboo subject in our society –creating a dialogue is more important than people think.
Debbie House, an administrator for the Regina Women’s Community Centre and Sexual Assault Line, recognized that it is an uncomfortable topic for people, but that dialogue is a step in the right direction. It could encourage people to talk about it more openly and even help people feel more comfortable in reporting incidents to the police.
Ruddell believes that these seemingly small gestures, such as public education, public events, and giving victims a voice, are all positive steps.
“They’re trying to change people’s attitudes and inform the public,” he said. “At least they’re doing something.”
If people would like magnets, which are shaped like stop signs, they can be picked up at the Regina Women’s Community Centre’s office, located at 1830 Mackay Street. The centre does counseling, as well as maintaining a 24-hour sexual assault line at 352- 0434.