As ignorant North American’s, we have pointed our fingers to cultures around the world, specifically on how young women are being treated. We have campaigned and demanded changes on how they approach abuse and women’s rights. We have also neglected what our youth are doing in our own backyards. So in light of all the talk about changing things, I would like to start my own mini campaign to #starttalkingaboutdateviolence 

Statistics collected from Toronto Police show that “Sixty-six Percent of all female victims of sexual assault are under the age of twenty-four and eleven Percent are under the age of eleven.” With percentages as high as 66% in age brackets between 11-24 one would think that initiatives would have already been taken to, at the least, create dialogue in helping prevent this statistic from growing. With sexuality being such a big part of our everyday life, have we forced the youth of today to grow up faster than they should? Are we so caught up in this craze of invading and judging other countries, dictating on how we think they should live and treat women, that we are so blinded and oblivious to our own realities?! Why are we becoming so ignorant to the realities and struggles young women are facing here in Canada?

In an article put out in 2012 by the Globe and Mail, it is made painfully clear that the number of victims affected by date violence has doubled in six years;  “Victim numbers doubled to 17,028 in 2010 from 8,596 in 2004. In 2010, victims of dating violence surpassed those of spousal violence: 54,100 to 48,700, respectively.” (In these cases violence is categorized as; assault, sexual assault, threats, criminal harassment and even homicide. With the youth today even more technologically connected than ever before, cyber bullying and cyber harassment, which many argue extorts sex, has become extremely problematic.) These numbers are very dangerous when you look at the severity of assault, the repercussions assault has on the psyche and how little attention we pay to this clearly growing issue. Assault on any level, especially when gone unreported has detrimental affects psychologically, emotionally, and physically. Women that are physically and sexually abused are twice as likely to get an STI. Victims of abuse are also more likely to have substance abuse problems, anger problems, and self-esteem issues; it is clear that something needs to change NOW. North American’s have become masters at hypocrisy. We are so caught up in being “heroes” or “dictators” that our own backyards have accumulated so much more filth than we are ready to admit. 

It is repulsive when I see;  pages titled “You know she is playing hard 2 get when she slaps a restraining order on ya.” still live on Facebook, when hashtags #reasonstobeatyourgirlfriend and #reasonstohityourgirlfriend are still successfully trending on Twitter. Where is the corporate responsibility of these social networking platforms? Where is the public responsibility we seem to be preaching to other nations? It is sickening to know that we are laughing at the expense of our own sisters, brothers, friends.

These are the problems, where are the solutions? I am not an expert, but here is my shot. Statistics show that confusion about the legal procedures and confidentiality are the leading concerns that prevent youth from seeking help and coming forward. Educating the youth on procedures and their legal rights is clearly vital. We need to stop laughing at the expense of others, we need to stop the victim blaming, shaming and blasting. We shouldn’t wait for children to feel helpless to help them. Let’s open dialogue, let’s start talking about the problem. In a survey more than 81% of parents said they did not think that date violence was an issue today. The initial step in preventing date violence from occurring is to acknowledge its existence. I don’t want to hear about another girl who couldn’t take the cyber bullying anymore, and decided to take matters in her own hands. Let’s start recognizing the warning signs instead of ignoring them. Put down your phones, close your laptops for longer than dinner time. Let’s be aware that date violence is a GROWING issue in Canada, lets be more responsible and vigilant. Let’s throw away the ignorance in thinking we are perfect because we have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and most importantly lets #starttalkingaboutdateviolence

Nivie Dhami