09_10_2007deadwomanwalking.jpg

Take Back the What?

Saturday marked Toronto's 27th annual Take Back The Night protest and march. The Toronto Rape Crisis Centre hosted the event that went almost completely unnoticed in
local media.

It wasn't noticed on many "alternative" news sources either.

With so many students heading back to school, predators seem to be taking advantage on campuses across Ontario. Students at York and Carlton are reeling after some of their female students were attacked and raped recently.

Well, reeling may be a bit of an exaggeration. But they should be.

A recent Toronto Star article ends on a very low note, with two 18 year old, first year students stating: "We've become desensitized to it."

I cannot properly describe how angry and upset this makes me.

Maybe it's the fact that I'm a female student. Maybe it's the countless times I've been hassled by men after dark. Maybe I'm just bitter because many of the women I know roll their eyes when I make them use the term 'woman' instead of 'girl'.

I'd like to think of myself as someone who has a decent amount of 'street smarts'. I get my campus security to walk me to the subway when I work late, I avoid bad neighborhoods and parks after dark, and I never leave my drink unattended.

But since moving to Toronto two years ago, I've had a drink spiked and I've been jumped in a parking lot. I am not suggesting that Toronto is less safe for women than other cities in Canada, but I am shocked at how little anyone seems to care.

Two young women are at university for less than a month and they are already desensitized to rapes happening in dorm rooms on campus? We should be livid! Raving! Foaming at the mouth!

The York University website has a list of measures that it is implementing to keep students safer that includes doubling security and increasing staff at the residences. I don't think it's enough.

When I visited York campus to check out their astronomy department I was given a tour from a current student there. We visited the campus pub, some of the other buildings and the "rape tunnels". More security may keep the number of attacks down, but it doesn't tackle the larger problem facing women in this city: apathy.

Photo "Dead Woman Walking" courtesy of tanjatiziana at the BlogTO flickr pool


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