Stop Violence Against Women in Toronto’s Downtown East
Important update: series of assaults, lack of police response, fighting for - and winning - shelter and drop-in space.
Over the recent December holidays, there were multiple sexual assaults against women reported to police in the Downtown East, allegedly done by one man. Once again, like the case earlier in the fall (http://update.ocap.ca/node/1115), there has been no media attention and no public warnings to women. So once again, OCAP women organized a community based response. We made and put up over 300 posters, canvassed, and talked directly to many people in the neighborhood. (See Here for a copy of the more recent poster - please feel free to print and post).
We know that when women live in low income communities the response for our safety is of even less importance. There are multiple ways in which women can be alerted to sexual assaults in their neighbourhoods and these continue to not be utilized. We are already vigilant, we are forced to be, and when we know there is a predator in our neighbourhoods, and especially when there is an image and description of them, we can be even more so. Police over-police our neighbourhoods when it comes to drugs or ways that they criminalize us - they have a billion dollar budget and can't find the "resources" to canvass our neighbourhoods? Can't find the resources to alert women and agencies in the neighborhood when sexual assaults are occurring? They don't care about our safety and they demonstrate this every time sexual assaults occur and they do nothing to alert us.
We cannot disconnect the violence of assault from the violence of the state. Over the past year, we have fought for increased shelters and a 24 hour drop-in space for women. Through this unrelenting activism, the City has now opened a temporary women's shelter in Parkdale, with a permanent shelter scheduled to open in the spring. The 24 hour women's drop-in space is also in the works, and we intend to push for it to be open sooner rather than later. And now we have also won a Warming Centre during cold alerts at Metro Hall. We have also seen our allies in the sex workers rights movement win a significant victory at Supreme Court towards the decriminalization of sex work. We continue to fight for what we need to survive and thrive - housing, shelter, safe space, adequate income, just to name a few - and for a society free of violence against women.
If you would like to join the OCAP Downtown East Women - get in touch.
DTEwomen@gmail.com | 416-925-6939