Twenty-one years ago today, a gunman entered Montreal’s École Polytechnique and killed 14 women.
It wasn’t just a coincidence that all the victims were women. The school was an engineering school, and the gunman actively separated the women from the men. His “accusation” was that because they were studying in what was typically a male-dominated field (engineering), they must be feminists.
This accusation has parallels around the world, when women and girls are seen as “acting out” when they try to legitimately access their rights. This “acting out” is still seen as an excuse by many to commit violence against women. Whether it be a girl trying to go to school without permission in a community where she needs the okay of her father or brothers to leave the house, or woman who asks her husband to wear a condom because she expects that he’s been cheating on her, these should never be excuses for violence against women. There is no excuse for violence against women and girls.
Now, in Canada, we recognize December 6 as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Though this event happened more than 20 years ago, it’s an important reminder for us that violence against women happens in Canada, too. Restructure! over at the Geek Feminism Blog notes that in Canada Aboriginal women and transgender women are especially at risk of violence here today. The Canadian Government states that young women 15 to 24 are particularly vulnerable to violence in Canada:
“Between 1997 and 2006, young women (aged 15 to 24) were killed at a rate nearly three times higher than for all female victims of spousal homicide. During the same period, the rate of sexual assault for girls (under age 18) by family members was four times higher than for boys.”
Clearly, this is a day worth remembering, because the problem isn’t over. STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN!