What is SACHA?

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We made another video!

In retrospect, we should’ve called it ‘Who Is SACHA?’ because we get asked that all of the time…

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Multicultural Sewing Circle Graduation

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On Wednesday, we celebrated the women of SACHA’s Multicultural Women’s Sewing Circle with a graduation ceremony and potluck.

Above are some examples of some of the projects that they worked on together.  Many women came to the circle having never touched a sewing machine before and learned skills patiently together.

Thank you to all of the women who participated, made connections, took chances, and shared their culture with other women in the group.

Thank you to the groups facilitators Myriam and Selma for sharing their skills in both group facilitation and sewing.

Canada World Youth @ SACHA

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SACHA had the pleasure of welcoming two more Canada World Youth students into our space for the last three months, Andrea and Ema.

We really appreciate all of the work that they have contributed to SACHA and are excited that they are taking their energy, enthusiasm and compassion to end violence back to their home communities.

Here they are hard at work making SACHA’s space more beautiful…

Andrea and Ema Andrea Ema

 

 

Students Speak Out – Part 4

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This year at TBTN, fourth year McMaster Sociology students volunteered at the event.  They helped out by  helping to serve food, carrying giant puppets, marshalling the march, and cleaning up after the event.  We truly appreciate their amazing energy and all of the work that they got done.  Some of the students shared their thoughts with us after the event.

In my second year at McMaster, I took a sociology course with the majority of the class being females. On the very first day, the professor asked the question, ‘How many of you consider yourselves a feminist?’ In a lecture hall of about two hundred people, there were approximately five individuals who raised their hand. The professor then asked a second question: ‘How many of you believe that women should have equal rights as men?’ And with that, the entire lecture hall raised their hands. She responded by stating that the entire class then, were feminists. This little exercise really opened my eyes as to what a feminist is and what it is they are striving to achieve in society.

I think that being a woman and being a feminist in today’s society is something that is not easy to celebrate since it is so easily distorted into being a negative thing. That’s why I believe events such as Take Back the Night are so important in our society; to raise awareness for women’s issues and to dispel pervasive myths and stereotypes.

Participating in this event was such a wonderful experience for me and I really appreciated that issues such as sexual violence and patriarchy were being brought to the forefront. However, although we marched through the streets of Hamilton to raise awareness for women’s rights and show that we are strong women who deserve to feel safe in our community, we were still marching through a patriarchal society. This was made clear to me as I was marching through Hess Street chanting with the exuberant crowd when a man commented, ‘What the hell is this?’ What angered me about this man’s comment was the arrogance that it displayed. Perhaps he was caught off guard by the large marching crowd, but he did not question the march in a genuinely interested way. Instead, he demanded to know why in the world women would be marching down the street that he too was walking down. Although it would have also upset me to hear this man say something along the lines of ‘women ask for it,’ or, ‘women do not deserve equal rights as men,’ it was the fact that he approached this march with such antagonism that it really struck a chord with me.

I think it is very easy for people to push aside problems that do not directly relate to them. The answer is simple: Solidarity. Whether we have directly experienced something or not, it is our duty as women to acknowledge survivors who have experienced injustices and say that we will not live in an oppressive society. We can use our voices and our strength to achieve equal rights to men, to raise public awareness of sexual assault, racism, ageism and countless other issues in our society. All I hope is that at the very least, individuals will inform themselves of the issues rather than simply brush a marching crowd to the side and behaving arrogantly. Arrogance is not bliss, solidarity is.

— Laura

Students Speak Out – Part 3

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This year at TBTN, fourth year McMaster Sociology students volunteered at the event.  They helped out by  helping to serve food, carrying giant puppets, marshalling the march, and cleaning up after the event.  We truly appreciate their amazing energy and all of the work that they got done.  Some of the students shared their thoughts with us after the event.

This year’s Take Back the Night (TBTN) was a much more positive and empowering experience than I had expected it to be. I volunteered at TBTN as part of my course at McMaster University and I am so glad that I got the opportunity! Having such a large group of women gathered together like that and speaking out against something that is such a massive issue in Hamilton, and the world at large, was fantastic.

I have never been in such a large and fantastically vocal group of women! I was, however, pretty shocked by the lack of knowledge and tact that some people seemed to have. At one point, before the rally began, I was standing on the outskirts of the group when a man came up and asked, “Hey lollipop, what’s all this ‘bout?” (Lollipop? Really?) So I explained to him that TBTN is for women speaking up against sexual harassment and violence. His solution to all of our problems? “Well don’t go out at night then! Use your brains!” Profound. This sort of mindset is all too common in our society and events such as TBTN set out to eradicate rape myths and victim blaming.

One of the many positives about this experience was the female space. It is clear that in our everyday lives we spend most of our time in extremely male dominated patriarchal spaces. As much as we don’t want to believe it, this holds true on university campuses (Currie, 1994).). It seems to be quite impossible to find a public space that is dedicated solely to women or that is at least truly egalitarian. TBTN creates that space and it is extremely empowering. It creates such a fantastic vibe, especially knowing that you are at an event that was organized and led by powerful women in our community. It is so important to have strong female role models.

I will definitely go to TBTN again! It was such a great experience and one that I believe all girls and women should get the pleasure of taking part in at least once! And remember, A DRESS IS NOT A YES! 🙂

— Kirstie

References
Currie, D, H. (1994). Women’s Safety on Campus: Challenging the University as            Gendered Space. Humanity and Society, 18(3), 24-48.

Students Speak Out – Part 2

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This year at TBTN, fourth year McMaster Sociology students volunteered at the event.  They helped out by  helping to serve food, carrying giant puppets, marshalling the march, and cleaning up after the event.  We truly appreciate their amazing energy and all of the work that they got done.  Some of the students shared their thoughts with us after the event.

As a first-time Take Back the Night participant, I understood why this event needs to happen. What better way to raise awareness about sexual assault against women than to have a large group of them march through the main streets of Hamilton? Once I was there though, among these women united for the same cause, the importance of this event really hit home. For many women, this march was not only about raising awareness but also for empowering women as a collective unit, strong in numbers and spirit. This deeply resonated with me, as I continue to look back on the experience and feel privileged to have been apart of this experience.

During the march, it really dawned on me how vital the feeling of support and the availability of resources, such as this event and the various other services SACHA offers, are for survivors of sexual violence. This led me to consider the negative implications that insufficient funding can have on the availability of these services for women. Hamilton is lucky to have SACHA, as government funding for social services has continually decreased since the 1980’s due to the implementation of neo-liberal strategies, such as radical spending cuts and policy changes.

I was able to witness firsthand how important events like TBTN and organizations like SACHA are for survivors of sexual assault and their families and friends, as they aim to re-empower and support women. Government cutbacks to social service funding decrease the resources made available to these women by decreasing the amount of financial aide available to the organizations in their communities. It is discouraging to know that there are women out there who would greatly benefit from this experience like I was able to, but cannot because of restrictive policies and budgets.  Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of Take Back the Night and felt that it was a truly empowering event that all women should be able to experience and benefit from.

More information regarding this and how it affects groups like SACHA can be found in the following article: Morrow, M., Hankivsky, O., & Varcoe, C. (2004). Women and violence: The effects of dismantling the welfare state. Critical Social Policy, 24(3), 358-384.)

— Hayley

Students Speak Out – Part 1

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This year at TBTN, fourth year McMaster Sociology students volunteered at the event.  They helped out by  helping to serve food, carrying giant puppets, marshalling the march, and cleaning up after the event.  We truly appreciate their amazing energy and all of the work that they got done.  Some of the students shared their thoughts with us after the event.

This year was the first year I not only participated in Take Back the Night (TBTN), but it was the first year that I had even heard about the event. Based on my experience of TBTN, it is evident that this event is successful in bringing together a large amount of women identified folks to unite against violence towards women. Though there was a large attendance, I believe that more folks would come out if there was more media coverage of the event. Media coverage plays a significant role in the perceptions of violence as a social issue, so it is crucial for events such as TBTN to be considered newsworthy topics and be covered in media.

I am not sure why I had never heard of this event before, because as I have learned, 2012 was TBTN’s 31st year in Hamilton. I am not sure whether it is due to a lack of promotion if it is something that I had never focused my attention on. Despite the fact that I had not noticed any publicity berfore TBTN, I figured reporters would be at the actual event. When I arrived at City Hall, I did not notice many news reporters or news stations there. I was surprised, as I thought this was newsworthy. After TBTN, I went home and waited for the eleven o’clock news on CHCH. I anticipated that there would be an informative and somewhat extensive news story about the march, as the media is supposed to reflect what is happening in society. I saw TBTN as a newsworthy topic and it is a local event, so why wouldn’t it be on the news?. It was a disappointment to see that the only news coverage that Take Back the Night received was an extremely short cell phone video. It was clear that no news reporter was there to cover the march. Personally, I believe that local news channels should be capturing events such as these, as violence against women is a very important issue that media tends to ignore.

It is evident that violence against women is often ignored in the media. Lack of media coverage results in a lack of awareness, lack of education, and lack of knowledge of resources available to the public. Increased media coverage would result in increased awareness, increased participation, and an overall increased in education about the topic. The increase of information would also result in an increase of societal support to those women who have experienced violence. It is crucial for media to increase their coverage on the topic of violence against women, as media exposure influences perceptions of social reality and social acceptance. If media were to expand its coverage on this issue, the views of violence against women would change. Society would be able to gain a better understanding of survivors of sexual violence, and myths about rape.. In the future, I think that it would be beneficial for TBTN, along with other like events, if local news stations were there. This would allow the general public to gain information regarding what is going on in their community to gain awareness about violence against women.

Although there are times when violence against women is portrayed in the media, it is crucial for the information that is given to be accurate, as it plays a huge role in shaping societal attitudes. It is important that this information is not distorted, as wrong information will mislead the public and prevent the society from being supportive. I think that if TBTN was to be reported in media, more accurate information regarding this topic would be available. Reports of women who are survivors of violence would be able to share their stories, and provide accurate and informative accounts of their experiences. This would provide the public with real stories, about real people. I think that hearing these stories on the television, or reading them in newspapers, would force people to face the facts of violence against women. They would see that it is a serious societal issue and one that needs support. Media needs to increase their coverage of the topic, while ensuring that the information given is accurate.

Overall, my participation at TBTN was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. It was truly an eye opener to be part of a group of women identified individuals who all feel so strongly about violence against women. Marching alongside these individuals created a feeling of empowerment inside me and I can say that I will be back there again next year! Participating in this event has provided me with an increased knowledge about the issue and it is a shame that local media failed to provide the same to the rest of the community.

— Dana