Today was a very challenging day for us all but a small step forward for all survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Thank you all for your constant support, together we are strong.
I wanted to share with you all part of my statement for this Thursday's Press Conference with the OFL to demand the implementation of Bill 26...
"On March 6, 2015, the Government of Ontario announced “It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment”. The statement reads that “The Government will not tolerate sexual violence, sexual harassment or domestic violence. Protecting all Ontarians from their devastating impact is a top Government priority and is essential for the achievement of a fair and equitable society``
Yet as many as 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. This makes sexual assault one of the most common serious crimes. In Canada out of every 1000 sexual assaults that are reported only 3 lead to conviction that means that 997 assailants walk free.
Our current judicial system is one rooted in patriarchal and bias structures that leave little room for trauma informed approaches and equitable outcomes for a lot of survivors. The Government of Ontario has an opportunity to make a small change within that system with Bill 26, an amendment to the employers standards act.
After I was assaulted last October, walking home, in my neighbourhood I loved, I couldn’t imagine walking down the same street the next day to go to work and I was lucky enough that I did not have to.
Like many survivors of sexual assault and violence, I wanted the world to stop turning, so I could try and make sense of what had just happened to me. The violation, the fear, the insignificance and the anger and like many survivors of sexual assault I was afraid to bring this up at home, to my friends and to my colleagues. Being an employee of an organization that ensured I had the protection, support and time I needed made all the difference to me.
The Government of Ontario has committed to “protecting all Ontarians from the devastating impact of sexual assault, harassment and domestic violence.” So I urge us all to hold them accountable and demand the implementation of Bill 26, which would ensure all survivors receive a minimum of “10 days paid leave, reasonable unpaid leave, and options for flexible work arrangements, and to require employers to provide mandatory workplace training about domestic violence and sexual violence.”
10 days is not much to ask for. The world keeps turning for those 10 days but at least we could have a small amount of time to make sense of that, make plans to move forward, reach out and get support, ensure our workplaces remain safe and rooted in trauma informed practices, but most importantly, begin to heal. "
-Viktoria Belle (formally Bitto). 2016.