Sexual Violence: Outcomes and Action

Wendy Komiotis, Executive Director, METRAC

Given the surge of public interest in sexual assault and harassment, our hope is for the following outcomes to build safer workplaces and communities over the long term.

  1. Expressed commitment on all levels of government – federal, provincial and municipal – to reduce and prevent sexual violence, especially against women, girls and other groups who face higher risks.
  2. Launch of local, provincial and federal-level studies on sexual violence to gather data on the problem and build our understanding of prevalence, impact and best practices for action.
  3. Examination of police and legal responses to sexual assault to better enable survivors/victims – especially young women, who are at highest risk – to report if they so choose.
  4. Examination of human rights and workplace laws on sexual assault and harassment to know how effective they are in preventing and addressing violence from the perspective of women and others at high risk.
  5. Establishment of institutional and workplace audit “temperature checks” across sectors to identify gaps in policy and practice and build a culture of safe reporting for incidents of sexual violence.
  6. Increased funding supports for crisis intervention services to help those who have been sexually victimized and sexual violence prevention programs.
  7. Strengthened early sexual violence prevention curriculum integrated into primary, elementary and secondary school curriculum and programming, focussed on reducing perpetration and building a “consent culture”.
  8. Improved media practice to communicate constantly and purposely on gender-based violence so as to reduce the “sensational” approach, demonstrate “hidden stories” and reflect its common prevalence in our society.

Here are things people who care about ending sexual violence in our workplaces and communities can do.

  1. Make your concerns about prioritizing an end to sexual violence known to your government representatives on all levels.
  2. In your own lives and relationships, challenge myths and stereotypes about sexual violence that often silence and blame people who are victimized.
  3. Participate in and support campaigns and organizations that address and prevent sexual violence.
  4. Get familiar with work/school policies on sexual assault and harassment. If you can’t find them or they have gaps, reach out to decision-makers to find out how they can be improved.
  5. Know the local services and supports available to those who are sexually victimized so you’re ready to support someone if they ask for your help.
  6. For parents, guardians and mentors, help children learn to respect women, girls and others at high risk of violence; understand consent; and critique myths and stereotypes about gender-based violence.
  7. Invite representatives of organizations that work to prevent sexual violence to address the issue in your workplace, community centre, religious or spiritual centre and sports arena or club.