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Letters to the editor, June 23, 2016

These are the letters and comments from the print edition


Women still need real change

We are residents of Adsum Centre, a transitional housing program for women at risk of homelessness. Many of us have experienced sexualized violence and physical violence, but in today's climate, we do not feel heard, believed or safe from backlash and victim-blaming if we speak out. It is these supportive walls that have become our safe haven, free from judgment and free from blame.

In recent months, we have seen those with power and privilege make a mockery of women who were strong enough to speak out. If Lucy DeCoutere was publicly shamed and doubted for speaking out and giving voice to the trauma of sexualized violence, then we won't even stand a chance. We have NO voice.

We live in a climate where sexual violence against women is normalized, and where power, privilege and money matter more than the voices of traumatized survivors. The Ghomeshi assaults sparked national news, and here at home events involving incidents at Dalhousie University's School of Dentistry in 2014 (misogynist Facebook posts) and at Saint Mary's University in 2013 (rape chants) demonstrate that rape culture is very much alive.

The justice system is failing women—it is failing our wives, our sisters, our daughters, our mothers, our friends and, most importantly, our selves. Today the public is more interested in preserving a young man's swimming career, maintaining that his life should not be ruined for 20 minutes of "action." The life of the woman that Brock Turner assaulted has forever changed—she no longer trusts, she no longer feels safe and her voice was discounted throughout her ordeal, but his father insists that six months is too harsh a penalty.

This is a systemic problem that speaks volumes about women's worth, significance, humanity and dignity within our society. Current laws are inadequate to deal with sexual assault. The law is not an unbiased entity; it is infused with misogynistic ideas about women and about sexuality. Both the media and our justice system minimize sexual assault.

In Halifax, there are daily occurrences of sexual assaults—many of which go unrecorded and unrecognized, which does little to help the survivor deal with the dehumanizing shame and trauma she endures.

The current situation is discouraging. However, history has demonstrated that laws can change. We have seen it happen. But it is not enough—we need more change. Until 1983, rape was not recognized within a marriage. Until the Rape Shield Law of 1992, a woman's sexual history was admissible in court. We need a better understanding of trauma and a gender-based analysis of our laws. How women behave post-assault needs to be understood through a trauma-informed approach and a gender lens—for example, it is not uncommon for a woman to blame herself for the assault and to try to minimize it. A woman's social standing or lack of privilege should not influence decisions about the seriousness of her assault. No one deserves to be raped.

We need lawyers, police, judges and others working in the justice system to understand these issues and to take them into account while achieving real justice.

We are discouraged, and our faith in the system is diminished, but we want to have hope. We need real change. —JC, SC, DH, KK, RL and LR, Adsum

Bring on the carbon pricing

Bravo, Naomi Hill and Fusion Halifax for raising awareness of the advantages of carbon pricing in Nova Scotia ("Carbon pricing offers an answer to climate change," Voice of the City, June 16). This is a huge boost in the numbers of people who will be exposed to what a good idea a fair price on pollution is for Nova Scotia because, if the revenue is returned to the citizens in whole or part, 60 percent of the population from the lowest income households to the middle income households would come out ahead or break even. The federal government has stated there will be a price on carbon so the more quickly Stephen McNeil stops avoiding this and starts examining the best way to do this for Nova Scotians, the less we will be behind the rest of the world. We need to get to $150 per tonne ASAP to avoid a catastrophic four degree temperature rise—where we're headed because Harper's very weak targets for reduction are still in place. —posted by Joanne Light at


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