Q: With the recent attention to public sexual abuse allegations I question why women are so reluctant to speak out if they are assaulted? Did they ask for it?
A: Women’s reluctance to speak out regarding unwanted sexual activity does not suggest complicity. There are a number of factors that contribute to attacks such as sexual assault and domestic violence against women. The major one is a societal problem. Women are not valued in the same way as men. All over the world, women are sold, enslaved, prostituted and denied education. Female babies are killed in favour of male children. With a worldview that privileges men and subordinates women, the denigration of women becomes the norm.
One out of three women will have experienced some form of sexual assault in their life. Women do not ask for it but often do not come forward and speak out because the legal process is grueling and humiliating. Past sexual history and normal youthful behaviour such as partying and alcohol use is raised and becomes public knowledge suggesting that the woman deserved the abuse.
A societal response that no longer supports the oppression of women is needed. Women are not children. Our Occupational Health and Safety Act now requires co-workers, aware of domestic violence, to report to the employer so that a safety plan can be developed to protect the alleged victim. Two results of this are most relevant to this discussion. You can now no longer confide incidents of domestic violence to your colleagues unless you want the information to go further. You lose the right of confidentiality. Secondly, you must be prepared for potential consequences when the safety plan is implemented and when your abusive partner becomes aware of the plan. Mandatory reporting in this situation treats the abuse victim, most often a woman, as if she were a child who does not have the right to self-determine.
The system needs changing. Domestic violence costs our economy money for medical care, mental health care, and lost productivity. It increases unemployment because frequent absenteeism and health issues cause almost ½ of victims to lose their jobs. When the public sexual assault allegations mentioned above, are dealt with there will be recommendations made. Demand regulations that no longer support the subjugation of women. It is in all our best interests to stop the abuse.