By Maeve Paterson, WomanACT Contributor
Speaker: Krittika Ghosh
Krittika Ghosh, Senior Coordinator of the Violence Against Women’s Project at the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) was able to effectively condense a 5-week training program into a captivating afternoon workshop that I feel fortunate to have attended during the Supporting Survivors by Supporting Staff annual training conference. The purpose of this course (which can be done online through OCASI) is to help front line practitioners working with immigrant and refugee communities to better understand issues of sexual violence and develop a supportive response for survivors.
We began by brainstorming and discussing what came to mind when we think of “Sexual Violence”. Here is an idea of what was included on our list:
Then, after playing a fun and informative “get-to-know-you” game aka a twist on Bingo, Ghosh answered some tough questions. We learned that one out of four women in Canada experience sexual violence and over ½ of the women who have experienced sexual violence will have survived more than one incident (Statistics Canada, 1993). I was also shocked to hear that 82% of sexual assaults involved the survivor knowing the perpetrator (31% were family members). Even more distressing is that 93% of women who experience sexual violence do not report it to police and only 1% of date rapes are reported.
Although we noted that men too experience sexual assaults, according to Ghosh “the continuum of violence in which women continue to represent the majority of victims, is rooted in social, economic and political inequality of women—responses to ending the issue must also be systemic in nature. Women’s experiences must be understood in context of systemic barriers experiences because of sexism, racism, classism, nationalism, hetero-sexism, ageism and or ableism. In particular, immigrant and refugee women are made vulnerable by Canadian laws and policies. They fear deportation, having their children being taken from them, financial hardship and separating the family unit.”