Sexual violence at UBC demands serious response

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David Eby, the New Democrat critic for advanced education and the MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey issued the following statement in response to sexual violence on UBC campus:

“At a time when women’s safe access to campus is under threat, everyone, including the university administration, the government and opposition parties, students, and community must pull together to ensure that the safety of women on UBC campus is prioritized and so that women know they have allies everywhere in demanding their right to access campus. Safety won’t be achieved by encouraging women to live in fear of sexual violence – it will be achieved only by our working together to end sexual violence.

“The serious nature of the recent sexual assaults on campus demands an equally serious response from everyone: police, faculty, student associations, support staff, and the broader community. We must stand together to denounce what is nothing less than a direct threat to women’s rights to education in a safe and secure environment.

“Together we can send the unambiguous message that the women of UBC have supporters everywhere who will stand against sexual violence – that the rape chants that students at the Sauder School were participating in are deplorable and must be properly dealt with as a violation of women’s human rights; that repeated sexual attacks on young women on campus are a crisis with which we should all be concerned.

“We must send the critical message to the young women at UBC that we stand with them in demanding safety from rape and sexual violence as a basic human right because the majority of rapes go unreported and unremarked upon. This quiet sexual violence is behind the appalling fact that more than a quarter of Canadian women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. This silence will only be broken if we let women know that we do not blame them for the violence that others are inflicting on them, we do not believe that what they have endured is trivial or a joke, and we understand that all of us have a role to play in preventing these kinds of attacks and we want to help.

“I urge the Vancouver Police and the RCMP to work urgently, thoroughly and cooperatively to ensure that the individual or individuals behind these attacks will be apprehended soon. As someone who worked on the Missing and Murdered Women Commission of Inquiry, met the family members of young women murdered along the Highway of Tears, and worked with marginalized women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside who live with violence every day, I’m also hopeful that these high profile incidents will spark a larger discussion about how we can tackle all forms sexual violence on B.C. campuses and in B.C. communities.”