End Violence Against Women

Many communities developed crisis centres for women recovering from rape, assault, or other violence. In larger centres,  rape crisis centres and shelters for battered women – especially for women and children leaving abusive men – were opened. Aboriginal women organized the first safe house in Prince Albert Saskatchewan. In smaller centres, the main initiative was often a crisis centre providing support for a range of issues. After some time, crisis centres banded together to form coalitions or provincial/territorial and national associations.

At the same time, protests and demonstrations such as Take Back the Night marches encouraged women to fight back, and raised public awareness about the issues of violence against women.

1972 – Vancouver Rape Relief, Prince Albert Interval House

1974 – Toronto Rape Crisis Centre and Interval House, Toronto 

1977 – Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW)

1978 – The “Fly-By- Night Collective” organized a march in Vancouver to “Take Back the Night” and Vancouver Rape Relief, the first rape crisis centre in Canada, continued organising it in subsequent years. Similar marches were organised in many cities across Canada

1981 – The Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres declared that Take Back the Night marches would be held on the third Friday in September so that all across Canada women would be marching on the same night. Women lobbied to change the rape law so that “rape” was changed to “sexual assault”. Women’s groups thought it would be taken more seriously if it were treated like other types of assault. Also, marital rape became illegal, and a rape shield rule was included so that victims could no longer be questioned on their sexual history.

1982 Vancouver WAVAW started a rape crisis centre and in 1983 a national clearing house identified 146 facilities for abused women.

1989 – The Montreal Massacre: On 6 December 1989, a man murdered 14 women and injured 10 other women and four men. He entered a classroom in L’école Polytechnique in Montreal, separated the women and men, and exclaimed, “I hate feminists”. He called the women “a bunch of feminists” and shot all nine women, killing six of them. He then moved through the college shooting deliberately at women. His 20-minute rampage ended in his suicide. He left a suicide note that blamed feminists for ruining his life and included a list of 19 Quebec women who were prominent feminists or women in traditional male jobs whom he apparently planned to kill. Suddenly, violence against women became a major public issue.

1991 – Parliament declared 6 December the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Under pressure from women’s groups the rape law was amended to include a definition of consent.

1994 – In Prince Rupert BC, 150 women and children marched to denounce violence against women.

Judy Rebick