By Adjani Ngako Toussom
Students and community members marched in protest against sexual violence to take back their right to walk the streets without fear of being assaulted.
The theme of this year’s rally was to fight in unison by opening a conversation between younger and older generations.
The Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education, a resource which provides support for survivors on campus and raises awareness about sexual violence, hosted Ryerson attends Take Back the Night on Sept.15 at Regent Park.
The annual event was organized by the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/ Multicultural Women Against Rape (TRCC/MWAR) and aimed to honour the experiences of women and transgender survivors of violence, including sexual and domestic violence as well as police brutality.
Ryerson graduate Roslyn Talusan, a collective board member at the Crisis Centre, said bridging the gap between generations can be healing for everyone.
Speaking as a sexual assault survivor, Talusan said, “It’s important to recognize and work against how ingrained rape culture is into older generations.”
She said our generation needs to unlearn misconceptions of sexual assault to avoid passing them on to future generations like those before us.
Linda Berry-Robinson, an elder at the Crisis Centre, said she decided to march to fight the silence and stigma associated with sexual violence. Berry-Robinson said that growing up as a Black woman, it was not the norm to speak out about sexual assault. She said she often witnessed families not wanting young survivors to speak out because they did not want other people to know.
Leading the march with the help of her walker, Berry-Robinson said she is a supporter of people who do not have support in their private lives.
“[We have to] take care of our women … who have been abused, who have been violated and support and believe them when they say they were,” she said.
The demonstration started at the Regent Park Community Center with a community dinner and talking circles where attendees could share their experiences.
Naomi Martey, a coordinator for the event, said that Take Back the Night allowed her to speak about sexual violence and her experiences as a “hyper visible” young Black woman. She said reclaiming spaces can help survivors in their healing journey.
“We must be here confronting these issues and if we don’t have the space to do so, we must work on creating these places,” said Martey.
Jo-Anne Miller, a Ryerson fourth-year social work student and attendee, said as an Indigenous woman, the march was especially important in light of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
“We shouldn’t be fearful for our daughters going out at night. It’s not going out at night in short skirts that causes rape, it’s rapists that cause rape,” she said.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that The Centre for Women and Trans People hosted the march, when it was really The Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education. The Eyeopener regrets this error.