Stand up and keep the conversation going

Three in 10 women have been “punched, shoved, dragged, threatened, raped or subjected to other violence” by a former or current partner while half of all murdered women are killed by their significant other, according to a global study of violence against women.

To many, these numbers seem staggering or miscalculated because many people have some kind of notion that violence against women is a thing of the past or are isolated instances which rarely happen. Reality check— recent crime statistics show that half of all Canadian women have been victims of violence.

These kinds of numbers suggest violence against women should be a mainstream health risk, along with the likes of tobacco and alcohol consumption.

Sixteen-year-old Adrianna Durley has been inspired by these sombering facts and has found a way to raise awareness for this issue. The teen has put together the Women’s Gala, which will be hosted at Gallery Connexion and will be accompanied by the musical talents and spoken word of local artists.

“The Women’s Gala was not only created to raise awareness for the issue of violence against women, but also hopefully uplift and inspire women to help each other,” said Durley. “I think women are key in ending violence against women and dismantling rape culture.”

Despite her young age, Durley had no trouble organizing the event or finding performers to help with the evening’s entertainment. Many of her young friends were also enthusiastic about the project.

“This is an important issue because of how common it is. People need to understand that it’s not okay for things like this to happen so frequently,” said Ashley Goodine, who will be performing an acoustic set. “During the performance, I’ll be thinking of the countless women whose voices don’t get heard. I think as performers we have a responsibility to speak for them.”

To get the night started, Durley will give a short speech which will focus on the stigma around the issue and highlight the importance of local transition houses.

Transition houses are safe havens that women and children can escape to when the abuse becomes too much. There are two in Fredericton. Both are non-government funded and utilize the community to keep their doors open. All funds raised at Durley’s Women’s Gala will go to Fredericton’s Women in Transition House, which takes in 200 women and children every year.

“I think it’s wonderful to see these young women expressing these things. I was very involved in the women’s movement in the 80s and then it seemed to me that women started to think that we didn’t need these sorts of groups anymore, but I was so glad to see these young women organizing and recognizing that we can’t rest and think that everything is okay,” said Dianne Power, executive director of the Women in Transition House.

Through this event, Durley is hoping the issue will become more commonly discussed.

“Bringing awareness to violence against women doesn’t always have to come from organized events like Take Back the Night or the Women’s Gala. We can raise awareness of violence against women by discussing it amongst our peers, in classrooms and with our families,” said Durley. “I will admit, it’s not the lightest issue but we must keep it in conversation if we are to change anything.”

The Women’s Gala will take place at Gallery Connexion on Wed. Feb.5 at 6:30 p.m. A $10 donation is suggested.