We are very excited to finally share with you a project we've been working on all summer, collaborating with the Students' Union, Den management and Calgary Sexual Health Centre. Working with these groups, CASE helped to bring bystander intervention training to the U of C's campus bar, the Den. We are thankful to see the Den become a leader in sexual assault prevention and hope to see this program continue in years to come. Read the full article here.
“Bystander intervention training is about a collective response, looking out for each other, taking concerns seriously and being able to help resolve the situation and the conflict,” said Emily Leedham, president of the Consent Awareness and Sexual Education Club at the University of Calgary, which brought the workshop to the Den.
The CASE team attended Take Back the Night and was asked to comment on the event by the Gauntlet. Check out the article here. We would like to thank the organizers for working so hard to put on such an important and empowering event!
While discussing Bill C-36 in the House of Commons on September 23, 2014, the Honourable Michelle Rempel used the Consent Awareness and Sexual Education Club’s work as example of groups who are working to prevent sexual assault. Although it is flattering to see our name mentioned in the House of Commons, and we are thankful for Ms. Rempel’s support, we would like to clarify that we as a group do not support Bill C-36.
Whether or not one wants sex work to happen in Canada, one effect Bill C-36 would have is to further marginalize and criminalize an already marginalized, criminalized group: aboriginal women. According to 2010-2011 reports from Statistics Canada, 41% of federally sentenced women were Aboriginal (more than 10 times their representation in the population). As Aboriginal women are also over-represented in street-level sex work, they are likely to be further criminalized by Bill C-36. If one wishes to decrease the incidence of sex work, helping to fund other opportunities and social support services for the individuals most affected would be far more effective than criminalization.
We also believe it is be necessary to look at the root reasons why some people choose to go into sex work in the first place. For example, when looking at people who enter out of economic necessity, it would be better to try to fix such economic inequalities instead of punishing the sex workers involved - people who are already marginalized within society. Similar statements could be made about helping to support individuals with substance abuse problems, people facing domestic violence, and those who struggle with their mental health. For individuals who go into sex work because it is a profession they choose out of a number of alternatives, allow them their own bodily autonomy and do not criminalize their activities. Conflating all sex work with sexual assault is fallacious.
Finally, the lives and voices of people engaged in street-level sex work should be prioritized in any legislation on the issue. Sex workers come from many different backgrounds and have diverse voices that should all be heard. Criminal restrictions on advertisements for sexual services force solicitation to move underground, and puts sex workers in a vulnerable position and at a greater risk for sexual assault. For these reasons, we do not feel Bill C-36 aligns with our values.
Campus Security has added a new phrase to the footer of their security e-mail alerts, stating, "A victim of crime is not responsible for the actions of a perpetrator." We are thankful to Campus Security for listening to the concerns of student leaders and consulting CASE to find more effective ways to support victims of sexual harassment and assault in this area. If we want to change the way people think about sexual assault, we have to rethink the language we use to talk about it. We are also thankful to the Students' Union for facilitating this important conversation between students and Campus Security.
This story was covered by the Gauntlet and FFWD Weekly.
Campus Security changes e-mail alert language
by Alexander Kim for the Gauntlet
Discussion of sexual assault still needs work
by Chris Adams for the Gauntlet
Crime alerts: U of C changes the way it informs the public
by Suzy Thompson for FFWD Weekly