Today, December 6, is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, commemorating the sixteenth anniversary of the massacre of fourteen young women at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal. They were slaughtered only because of their gender, and the blind hate that possessed of one vicious man.
If violence against women was limited to one man, there would be no need for a national day of remembrance and action. But, tragically, throughout our world, and indeed throughout our nation, our province and our city, there remain thousands of women who survive in a daily existence shrouded by fear, and physical and psychological abuse. They are persecuted and punished for no other reason than who and what they are, and the deranged psychology that possesses their abusers. Sometimes, abusers hide behind the apparent legitimacy offered to their unacceptable behaviours by long standing traditions of non-Western cultures. In other cases, it is the result of an individual's own feelings of powerlessness or low self-esteem that causes him to lash out at a person perceived as weaker. Regardless of the reason or supposed justification, the tragic deaths of fourteen must serve as both a stunning reminder of, and a clarion call to action against, all forms of violence, dehumanizing behaviours, and unthinking degradation of women.
Today, Canada's flags fly at half-staff in honour of the fourteen. May the memory of these young women act as a beacon, guiding our society, and all societies, towards a more enlightened and just world in which all may be safe. May their memory be for a blessing:
Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz
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