It's Time - Sexual Violence Against Women in Politics

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LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT This resource was created on the land known in Kanien’kÊha as Tkaronto. It has been and continues to be shared by many Indigenous nations, most recently the Haudenosaunee, the Anishnaabeg, and the Wyandot. We acknowledge the history of ongoing colonial violence on this land and recognize that colonial land violence and robbery occurred through targeted gender-based sexual violence. We recognize that the power structures that uphold rape culture and sexual violence are deeply connected to colonial violence. These power structures must be combatted using an anti-oppressive, harm reduction framework through which non-Indigenous peoples sincerely acknowledge the injustices and harms experienced by Indigenous people and the need for continued healing. We are committed to creating new relationships with Indigenous peoples rooted in truth, recognition and solidarity.



Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fostering young women’s leadership in civic engagement and politics. We enable young women to take on active roles within Canada’s democracy by providing skill-building workshops and networking opportunities, as well as addressing the barriers to their civic and political leadership.

AREZOO NAJIBZADEH (she/her) Executive Director and Co-founder

We work from a non-partisan, anti-oppressive, trans-inclusive feminist perspective.

YASMIN RAJABI (she/her) Director of Partnerships & Development and Co-founder Viktoria Bitto (she/her) Project Coordinator AMY PELLETIER (she/her) Administrative Assistant

ABOUT OUR WORK In a country that prides itself on its gender-equal cabinet, political institutions remain unsafe for women. From hateful and misogynistic comments to sexual assault, women in politics continue to be targets of violence at various stages of their careers and it is imperative to address the systemic nature of this violence in political spaces and our communities. Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN) is committed to supporting political institutions in their efforts to create accessible, safe and equitable work environments through a range of services and educational opportunities. Through our work with young women in political and civic leadership we have identified sexual violence as a pressing matter that continues to create hostile and unsafe work environments. Consequently, our work examines sexual violence as one of the most prominent barriers to their success and continued contribution within politics and civic engagement. We recognize the importance of encouraging young women to become involved in our democratic institutions and intend for this resource to spark critical dialogues and systemic change to further enable their participation. In particular, our work equips political institutions with a broader understanding of sexual violence and provides effective ways to promote consent culture in political spaces. Our research is based on interviews with 60 people from across Ontario, all of whom have been impacted by sexual violence and harassment. This resource is not a complete representation of the various forms through which sexual violence manifests in the political context. It is meant to encourage concrete actions toward addressing systemic gender-based sexual violence in politics.

CONTENT WARNING This resource provides statistics and ethnographic data collected through a series of group and individual interviews that may bring up unexpected emotions and/or distress. We urge readers to check-in with themselves regularly as they proceed through this resource, and to take the necessary space and time to take care of themselves. Refer to page 35 for more information on support services in Ontario.

WHERE WE STAND It is undeniable that women’s increased political participation as elected officials leads to better social, economic, and political outcomes for everyone. From increased attention toward issues impacting women’s lives to an often more collaborative work environment, increasing meaningful representation of women in politics is a crucial factor in strengthening Canada’s democracy. With women representing only 27% of Canada’s elected officials, we have a long way to go to ensure that not only women have equal opportunities within our democratic and political institutions, but that our political institutions are adequately responsive to women’s wide range of experiences and needs. Furthermore, it’s important to recognize that numerical analysis of women’s political participation cannot be the the only factor in assessing the state of women’s political engagement. We must broaden our definitions of ‘women in politics’ beyond elected officials to include political volunteers, interns, and staffers, as well as lobbyists and unionists who often partake in political action. Women, especially young marginalized women, are entering political spaces at high rates; however, this does not translate into the number of women candidates, elected officials, or in senior leadership within political institutions. We must pay closer attention to the various forms of gender-based violence and discrimination, such as sexual violence, that impede on women’s political participation at all levels. Beyond the diversity of women entering politics, we need to ensure they have access to safe and healthy work environments that foster their empowerment and leadership. Gender-based sexual violence is both a symptom of misogynistic and sexist social systems within our workplace. It is a workplace safety and human rights issue recognized by the Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC) and is also addressed within the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), a law that protects workers, including unpaid interns, against health and safety hazards at work. In federal workplaces, it is covered by the Canada Labour Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

“Sexual harassment is a type of discrimination based on sex. When someone is sexually harassed in the workplace, it can undermine their sense of personal dignity. It can prevent them from earning a living, doing their job effectively, or reaching their full potential. Sexual harassment can also poison the environment for everyone else. If left unchecked, sexual harassment in the workplace has the potential to escalate to violent behaviour.” — The Ontario Human Rights Code

We recognize the importance of laws and regulations that condemn sexual violence and protect survivors; and will be working with political institutions and governments to develop evidencebased, survivor-centric policies and support mechanisms for survivors. However, we must make a collective commitment toward challenging rape culture and systemic discrimination to inspire a culture shift within our workplaces and the broader society.

SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN POLITICS Elected officials, political staff, interns, and volunteers are subjected to unwanted and non-consensual sexually motivated behaviours that create hostile and unsafe work environments. Sexual violence continues to be dealt with behind closed doors and through whisper networks despite its prevalence in political institutions across Canada. It is a health, social, and public safety issue that continues to discourage women from entering the political arena, and drives away survivors.

“Whisper networks were our only way of warning each other; we all had a mental list of who to avoid that we shared with each other and new girls… some people’s name kept coming up and we felt so powerless when it came to speaking out against him or reporting him.” — Former intern Gender-based sexual violence in politics is a result of normalized misogyny and rapeculture within political institutions and the broader society. It is upheld through intersecting systems of oppression such as sexism, ableism, ageism, colonialism, homophobia, and racism, all of which aim to objectify and disempower women and trans folks within political institutions and simultaneously privilege those who have systemic advantages. Systemic oppression permits the abuse of power within political institutions. The intersections of gender, age, ability, race, economic status, seniority, and socio-political capital create imbalanced power dynamics that impact individual’s access to social and political capital. These power imbalances allow perpetrators to use their positions within our political systems to commit sexual

violence. The systemic sexism and misogyny that reinforce gender roles and normalize rape jokes, create an environment that fosters sexual violence.

“It doesn’t matter what your role is, sexual harassment is part of the experience of being a woman in politics; everybody experiences it differently but it’s so common that we forget that it’s not okay.” — Campaign volunteer Intersectional approaches to addressing sexual violence recognize a survivor’s multiple marginalized identities impact their coping mechanisms, access to resources and support, as well as the future of their careers in politics.

People of all genders, races, sexual orientations and class backgrounds can be subject to sexual violence. However, some people, such as racialized and Indigenous women, women with disabilities, low-income women, women with addictions, young women, and transgender people experience higher rates of genderbased sexual violence.1

“Being a non-binary person on a political team was already hard enough so I didn’t expect them to understand, that’s why I never told anyone… but I couldn’t find any useful resources in the LGBT community either.” — Former political volunteer Trans and non-binary folks face constant threats of violence within political institutions and the broader society. Please refer to our research findings (page 20) for more information about how trans misogyny and transphobia manifest in political spaces.

WHAT DOES SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN POLITICS LOOK LIKE? Sexual assault, sexual harassment, and indecent exposure are the forms of sexual violence that were experienced by the participants in our research. Sexual violence occurs where there is lack of consent. Consent must be voluntary and is not present when an individual is unable to actively agree to sexual activity due to intoxication from alcohol or other substances.

“Violence against women in politics can be described as ‘physical, psychological or sexual aggressions taken to shorten, suspend, impede or restrict the exercise of their office, or force a woman to make decisions against her will.’” — The International Knowledge Network of Women in Politics 2

SEXUAL ASSAULT Any kind of physical sexual contact without mutual consent. It can include unwanted kissing, groping, rape, or any other unwanted act of a sexual nature.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission defines sexual assault as a form of discrimination that involves any unwanted physical or verbal behaviour that offends or humiliates an individual. 3

SEXUAL HARASSMENT Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that affects the working, learning, or living environment, or leads to adverse

consequences for the one directly subjected to the harassment.

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, sexual harassment is “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought to be known to be unwelcome.” 4 Sexual harassment may consist of unwanted attention of a sexually oriented nature such as personal questions about one’s sex life, persistent requests for a “date”, or unwelcome remarks about someone’s hair, body shape, etc. Sexual harassment may consist of unwelcome remarks based on gender which are not of a sexual nature but are demeaning such as derogatory gender based jokes or comments. This includes comments and questions about one’s reproductive and family-planning choices, gender identity and sexual orientation. Cyber-violence is a form of gender-based sexual harassment that includes sexist and sexually abusive emails, blogs, and social media posts regarding women in politics.5 It targets women in politics from marginalized through digital campaigns rooted in colonialism, Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, racism, ageism, homophobia, and transphobia directly impacts their participation within political institutions. Sharing of photos or videos of someone without consent is a form of sexual harassment.

INDECENT EXPOSURE Exposing one’s body to another individual for a sexual purpose or coercing another individual to remove their clothing in order to expose their body, without their consent.6

DOES EVERYONE EXPERIENCE SEXUAL VIOLENCE THE SAME WAY? Sexual violence is rooted in systemic power imbalances that are heightened when survivors hold multiple marginalized identities. As a result, adequate support systems for marginalized survivors must be responsive to a wide range of experiences and needs. Research participants shared numerous examples of how their nuanced experiences of sexual violence were shaped by their marginalized identities. The dehumanization and objectification of racialized women and trans folks contribute to the hypersexualization and further violence experienced by them. This reaffirms their calls for intersectional and culturally-responsive support mechanisms as well.

“Being an Asian woman in politics is confusing; on one hand I was constantly infantilized and treated like a child, but on the other hand I was sexualized and assaulted by the same people; this is such a unique experience and more people should recognize it.” — Party volunteer Settler-colonial and anti-Indigenous violence in the form of racial slurs and stereotypes were also faced by survivors.

Indigenous women in Canada face almost three times more violence than non-Indigenous women in Canada.

“Calling me [racial slur] at the door wasn’t shocking to me… you know? Growing up native in the north that’s how it is.” — Former campaign volunteer on her experiences with canvassing

Black women continue to be tokenized, devalued, and disrespected within our political institutions. Hypersexualization of Black bodies, racist stereotypes, and dehumanization of Black women through demands such as emotional labour exacerbate Black women’s experiences of sexual violence and access to support systems.

“I felt so shocked and offended that this well-known supporter and donor would objectify me in such a public setting… everybody saw or noticed this literal slap my behind as he walked away and they resumed the conversation as if I had not literally been physically assaulted by a man… is this really how we treat women when they enter politics?” — Former campaign staff Islamophobia manifests in political institutions in nuanced forms. Popular narratives reinforce Islamophobic misogyny and sexism by taking away Muslim women’s agency and portraying them as oppressed and weak individuals; however, participants of our research also cited their success and relative power in political organizing as the motive behind the sexual violence they experienced as well.

“He felt like by assaulting me he was taking away some of the “influence” I had on how we ran the campaign; we had always had our disagreements but I can’t believe that that [sexual assault] was something that could happen to me… that’s the last thing I was thinking about when I agreed to help [the candidate].” — Former campaign volunteer

DOES EVERYONE EXPERIENCE SEXUAL VIOLENCE THE SAME WAY? Survivors cited various forms of transmisogyny and transphobia such as deadnaming, use of wrong pronouns, tokenization, and discriminatory language as forms of violence that accompanied the sexual violence they experienced. It must be noted that Black, Indigenous, and racialized trans folks face higher rates of violence due to their multiple marginalized identities.

“I kept saying ‘them’ when I introduced myself in front of him and my friends kept correcting him when he used the wrong pronouns… but he didn’t care and didn’t see me as a person and that became even more clear when he groped me.” — Former campaign volunteer

USE THE RIGHT PRONOUNS Misgendering is a common form of transphobia that can occur through the use of wrong pronouns. It is recommended that all individuals make a habit of sharing their pronouns when introducing themselves. Reminder: Not everyone will be comfortable sharing their pronouns right away or depending on the environment. Using gender-neutral pronouns such singular third person “they/ them” when referring to others who have not yet shared their pronouns can function exactly like he/him and she/her in a sentence.

There are multiple barriers to the political involvement of those with visible and non-visible disabilities. This includes campaign offices and event locations that make it difficult for those with physical disabilities to access political spaces, and to social events and methods of engagement that don’t take mental ability and health support to account. Women with disabilities also face greater barriers to reporting and seeking support services.

Over 80% of women with disabilities will be sexually abused in their lifetime. 7 Survivors in rural communities face unique challenges in reporting sexual violence and accessing resources. The close-knit nature of rural populations and the resulting lack of anonymity and confidentiality increases the risk of social isolation. 11 The great distances required to access services combined with the lack of transportation increases the challenges of accessing sexual violence support services. Research participants were located in the following areas:

Urban 53% Suburban 34% Rural 13%

RESEARCH FINDINGS Our research is informed by the experiences of survivors and others who have been impacted by sexual violence in politics and experts in the sexual violence prevention sector. Community and individual consultations took place with survivors and service providers in the the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, Northern Ontario, Ottawa, and London over the course of two months concluding in February 2018. A total of 60 individuals impacted by sexual violence were interviewed, and 27 individuals shared their experiences in depth.


GENDER The participants identified as: Men 2% Non-Binary 3% Women* 95%

RACE 76% of the participants self-identified as racialized or Indigenous despite being a minority in political spaces. Middle Eastern 18% Black 18% East Asian 15% South Asian 12% Indigenous 6% Mixed Racial Identity 3% Central Asian 3% White 24%

AGE With an average age of 25 years old, the participants ranged from being 19-37 years old.

Broader community consultations conducted by YWLN confirmed that violence experienced by middle-aged and senior women is rendered invisible within not only political institutions but the broader society as well.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION The participants identified as:

*We use an inclusive definition of “woman” and we welcome trans women, genderqueer femmes, and non-binary and gender expansive folks. We recognize that gender is an evolving concept and we will work to be inclusive of survivors identifying across the gender spectrum. 8

Heterosexual 63% Queer 33% Two-Spirit 4%

RESEARCH FINDINGS REPORTING Very few instances of sexual violence were disclosed through formal mechanisms. Those impacted by sexual violence identified the lack of clear human resources mechanisms and policies as a deterrent. Only 12 (44%) instances of sexual violence were reported either to campaign or party staff.

Of the 12 instances that were reported, only 1 person was provided with support resources.

Through all disclosures of sexual violence there was a consistent lack of accountability and consequences for the perpetrators of sexual violence.

LOCATION Sexual violence can occur in a multitude of locations and contexts. The prevalence of informal work environments such as private homes and restaurants influences power dynamics and relationships within a team and increases the risk of sexual violence.

Social events 32% Campaign offices 28% Canvassing 18% Government offices 8% Conventions 6% Private spaces 4% Electoral District Associations 4%

TYPES OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE EXPERIENCED Through our research, survivors disclosed experiences of sexual assault (rape, groping) as well as sexual harassment (unwelcome comments, propositioning, fetishization, and jokes of a sexual nature) as some of the most common forms of sexual violence in politics. Verbal sexual harassment 39% Groping 25% Rape 15% Psychological abuse 12% Indecent exposure 7% Physical violence 2%

PERPETRATORS Most survivors disclosed experiences of sexual violence perpetrated by men (97%); however it is important to recognize that perpetrators of sexual violence can be of any gender identity, sexual orientation, or age, and they can have any relationship to the survivor.13 Perpetrators of sexual violence were identified as: Campaign, party, or political staffer 49% Volunteer 27% Candidate 7% Donor 7% Elected Official 5% Unknown 5%

IMPACTS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE There is no single way of measuring the impacts of sexual violence. Physical, psychological, and emotional impacts can lead to severe personal, professional, social, economic, and academic losses for survivors. Trauma is one of the most common immediate and long-term impacts of gender-based sexual violence.

Trauma is an emotional and physiological response to a distressing event, like sexual violence. Short term reactions may include shock and/or denial. Long term reactions may include physical symptoms like headaches, nausea, and aching, as well as flashbacks, and emotional unpredictability which can extend beyond the individual into their relationships with others.

HEALTH CHALLENGES The health consequences of sexual violence can differ based on the form and severity of survivors’ experiences. of sexual violence. These impacts include but are not limited to physical injury, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 9 In addition to injuries caused by physical violence, survivors may also develop self-injurious coping behaviours (self-harm, substance abuse, eating disorders, etc.) as well as chronic pain as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The impacts of sexual violence on a person’s mental health are profound and can manifest as PTSD, depression, anxiety, and mania among others. Given the stigma and power dynamics in political spaces, survivors often face financial and social barriers in accessing

support and appropriate care. The lack of immediate professional care and adequate support mechanisms often force survivors to continue working alongside their perpetrators and in spaces that feel unsafe and this exacerbates their health conditions.

“At some point you just have to choose between your health and your career; I had so many plans, but at the end of the day I felt sick and tired of being in the same room as [the perpetrator] and have everybody act as if nothing ever happened,” — Former party organizer/staff

PROFESSIONAL CHALLENGES 80% of those impacted by sexual violence in politics have either left or decreased their involvement with political institutions. Beyond its impacts on psychological, emotional, and physical health, sexual violence in all of its forms deters survivors - women, particularly racialized women - from pursuing careers in political institutions. The social and professional isolation faced by those who experience sexual violence was cited as a deterrent for pursuing other careers in politics. Political institutions fail to adequately support survivors by prioritizing politics and public relations over their leaders, staff, volunteers, and supporters’ rights. In partisan politics, survivors are urged

IMPACTS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE to stay silent to protect the party’s electoral prospects. Survivors who come forward are often vilified and isolated within political parties. It is crucial to recognize social capital as a driver of success within politics; therefore isolation within professional and social networks is designed to drive out those who challenge the status quo.

“They treated me as a liability; the candidate’s image was far more important to them than my wellbeing; it was so disheartening to be treated like that by people I had worked with for years,” — Former party organizer

52% of women leave political institutions due to experiences sexual violence 28% have decreased their participation and involvement in politics 20% have remained involved

ACADEMIC CHALLENGES 63% of the survivors interviewed by us were students at the time of the incident. Sexual violence has a direct impact on the academic careers of survivors. Participants identified lower academic performance and delayed entry to the workforce as direct results of sexual violence.

PERSONAL CHALLENGES Sexual violence deeply impacts survivors’

sense of trust and safety. They may go through periods of emotional numbness, denial, fear and hostility, as well as feeling powerless and not in control. Some survivors resort to overworking, a coping mechanism that distracts from their physical pain and other discomforts. Overwork experienced by survivors with PTSD results in replacing unresolved feelings of stress and anxiety with tasks and work to the extent where they don’t notice physical pain or other discomforts.10

14% of the participants of our consultations identified “overwork” as one of their coping mechanisms for sexual violence in politics.

LEGAL CHALLENGES Biases and lack of knowledge and understanding around sexual violence within our legal system impact survivors ability and access to criminal justice.16 This particularly impacts marginalized identities such as Black, Indigenous and racialized women, trans folks, disabled women and sex workers. The legal system, including the criminal justice system and the police can perpetuate further structural violence towards survivors and marginalized communities. Survivors who choose to speak out about their experiences of sexual violence in politics often face the threat of criminalization themselves. Participants in our research cited the fear and threats of defamation suits as a barrier to reporting and seeking support.

“About 1 in 10 (12%) sexual assaults reported by police led to a criminal conviction, and 7% resulted in a custody sentence.”

ALCOHOL AND DRUG-FACILITATED SEXUAL ASSAULT Alcohol consumption plays a big role in Canada’s political culture. With alcohol being the most common date rape drug in Canada, it is often used by perpetrators to weaken and coerce survivors into performing and/or taking part in sexual acts. Sexual assault happens in situations without informed consent and where coercion is present. Within rape culture, alcohol consumption is often as an excuse for perpetrators actions while it’s used to blame survivors for their experiences. Political institutions are encouraged to provide alternative programming at events where alcohol is present to lower the risk of sexual violence and underage drinking.

“Canadian law says consent to sex (which is ALWAYS required) can only be given when individuals are capable of making informed decisions and have clearly and freely demonstrated that they want to engage in sexual activity. Legally, that means that if the person you’re with has been drinking, they can’t consent to sex (even if they don’t appear to be intoxicated).” — Carleton University Drug-facilitated sexual assault happens when a perpetrator takes advantage of survivors’ voluntary alcohol consumption or use of drugs, or when a perpetrator intentionally forces a survivor to consume drugs without their knowledge. In Canada each province and territory has its own legal drinking age. It is 19 years of age in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, and Yukon; and it’s 18 years of age in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec. Check in with team members and friends at events where alcohol is present. It is important for everybody to understand and respect consent, and to ensure that everybody’s behaving responsibly. This will give you a chance to help those who may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs to get to safety.

The only person responsible for sexually assaulting or harassing another person is the perpetrator. Any behaviour that aims to hold survivors accountable for their experiences is victim-blaming and further perpetuates rape culture.

CONFERENCES AND CONVENTIONS Sexual violence is a common occurrence at political conferences or conventions and rallies. Our research shows that 21% of incidents of sexual violence take place at conventions and/or rallies, including social gatherings such as receptions and afterparties. This reaffirms the findings of a 2015 research conducted by the Ottawa Hospital’s Sexual Assault and Partner Abuse Care Program where 25% of survivors had experienced sexual violence at mass gatherings such as festivals of community events. Political Institutions must not only commit to taking preventative measures toward addressing sexual violence at mass gatherings, but provide adequate support resources to survivors as well. “Bystander apathy is seen in large groups. We think that at large events we are safer, but this is false… When we have larger groups of people, we do not feel the same responsibility to act because we think someone else will intervene.” — Project Soundcheck, Sexual Assault Network of Ottawa Survivors have identified the following needs as preconditions for creating safer and more accessible political conventions and mass gatherings: • The presence of third-party, survivor-centric anti-harassment and sexual violence support advisors. Survivors suggest that these advisors be easily accessible by phone or email as well. • An information package that includes a code of conduct and information about support resources. The code of conduct must outlines expectations and potential outcomes. • Access to safe, inclusive spaces dedicated to women and trans folks. • Adequate funding for lodging in order to ensure that attendees and survivors can have private rooms. • Adequate funding for arranging emergency travel assistance. • Alternative programming focused on community-building that allows attendees, especially survivors, to find a balance between convention programming and self-care. Young Women’s Leadership Network provides anti-harassment support and resources to ensure a safe and secure environment during events and conferences.

The creation of this resource was a collaborative effort and we’d like to thank our incredible supporters, contributors, funders, and allies. In particular, we’d like to recognize the working committee that contributed to the creation of this resource: Alison Terpstra, Bilqees Mohamed, Edna Ali, Leslie Anne St. Amour, and Ravicha Ravinthiran. Moreover, we’d like to thank the organizations that made our work possible through their continuous mentorship and support: METRAC, YWCA Toronto, YWCA Canada, Ryerson University’s Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education, Our Turn National Committee, PoliticsNOW, Women & Politics London, and Samara Canada. Additionally, we would like to thank our mentors and supporters: Kathleen Monk, Etana Cain, Jean-Paul Bedard, Sydney Piggott, Raine Liliefeldt, Tiffany Jean Gooch, and Farrah Khan. We would like to acknowledge Sahar Ullah (CINDERULLAH) for the artwork and design of this resource. Finally, we are thankful for the numerous survivors who shared their experiences and expertise with us; the creation of this resource would not have been possible without their contributions.

FUNDERS Youth Opportunities Fund at the Ontario Trillium Fund

GOLD SP ONSOR Earnscliffe Strategy Group

SILVER SP ONSOR Office of Vice-President of Equity and Community Inclusion at Ryerson University

BRONZE SP ONSORS The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University Office of the Assistant Vice-President of University Relations at Ryerson University

Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario Scarborough Campus Students’ Union University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union

Special thank you to all of the community members who supported us through the Indiegogo campaign.


SEXUAL VIOLENCE SUPPORT TRAINING Sexual Violence Support Training is provided to campaign teams, party organizers and front line staff on best practices to recognize sexual violence and support survivors. This training includes creating a culture of care and safety, guidelines for response to disclosure of sexual violence and local resources.

EQUITY AND INCLUSION TRAINING We provide targeted trainings for audiences centred around understanding systems of oppression, power structures and how they intersect within political institutions. Training will provide institutions with concrete steps to address systemic discrimination and move toward greater equity and inclusion.

POLICY CONSULTATION We work with political institutions to identify and address the gaps in existing policies and support mechanisms. Where none exist, we work with senior leadership, staff and volunteers to create comprehensive and clear policies that are reflective of the needs of the institution to address sexual violence and support those impacted by it.

ANTI-HARASSMENT SUPPORT AT EVENTS & CONFERENCES We provide anti-harassment support and resources to ensure a safe and secure environment during events and conferences. Anti-Harassment Advisors are trained in investigating and intervening to address incidents of sexual violence as well as human rights and harassment complaints.

ADDRESSING SEXUAL VIOLENCE ON A SYSTEMIC LEVEL Eliminating sexual violence relies on broad societal movements and organizational commitments toward changing the underlying culture that facilitates it. Political institutions must dedicate a wide range of human and financial resources towards working with survivors and experts to fully understand and adequately address sexual violence. We work with political institutions to identify the gaps and barriers in existing policies and to create trauma-informed, survivor-centred policies and support mechanisms. Where none exist, we work with senior leadership, staff and volunteers to create comprehensive and clear policies that are reflective of the needs of the institution to address sexual violence and support those impacted by it.

YWLN has identified the following recommendations as priority areas for creating adequate sexual violence support mechanisms and culture shifts within political institutions.


Develop or adopt clear sexual violence and anti-oppression policies Mandate sexual violence prevention and support training for members on a recurring basis Create and implement a sexual violence awareness campaign Support initiatives aimed at addressing gender-based sexual violence


Provide access to survivor-centred, trauma-informed reporting mechanisms Provide immediate resources and paid leave for survivors Attend to the needs of survivors; whether that is removal or other consequences for the perpetrator Ensure that all frontline staff and volunteers are well-versed in practicing bystander intervention

SUPPORT • • • •

Create a sexual violence support and education role within the administrative team of the institution Utilize sexual violence support systems and services Develop clear human resources systems within political institution Hire third-party sexual violence support organizations to work with survivors

YWLN will be working with political institutions to provide adequate trauma-informed and survivor-centric resources for creating safer spaces for women in political institutions. To access our resources and expertise visit YWLN.CA/ITSTIME or email

REFERENCES [1] Break the Silence Nova Scotia. “What Is Sexual Violence?” Accessed March, 2018. [2] iKNOW Politics. “iKNOW Politics Report on Violence Against Women in Politics.” Last Modified February 2014. report-white-paper/iknow-politics-report-violence-against-women-politics [3] Canadian Human Right Commission. “What is Harassment?” Accessed March 2018. [4] Ontario Human Rights Commission. “Policy on Preventing Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment.” Accessed March 2018. [5] iKNOW Politics. “Online Harassment of Women in Politics: How Online Harassment isn’t ‘Virtual’ For Women.” Last Modified July 2017. e-discussions/online-harassment-women-politics-how-online-harassmentisn%E2%80%99t-%E2%80%98virtual%E2%80%99-women [6] University of British Columbia. “Sexual Assault and Other Sexual Misconduct Policy.” Last Modified April 2017. pdf [7] Sexual Assault Centre Hamilton and Area. “Statistics.” Accessed March 2018. [8] Sistering. “About Us.” Accessed on March 2018. [9] National Our Turn Committee. “Our Turn: A National, Student-Led Action Plan to End Campus Sexual Violence.” SSMU. Last Modified October 2017. [10] South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault & Family Services. “Feelings after sexual assault.” Accessed March 2018.

ABOUT OUR RESEARCH Our research equips political institutions with a broader understanding of sexual violence and provides effective ways to promote consent culture in political spaces. Our research is based on interviews with 60 people from across Ontario who have been impacted by sexual violence and harassment. This resource emerged from an urgency to provide resources for those impacted by sexual violence in political spaces at all levels of political engagement and across the political spectrum. We provide sexual violence support training, policy consultation, equity and inclusion training, as well as anti-harassment support at events and conferences.

GET IN TOUCH WITH US! W W W.Y WLN.C A – CONTAC T@Y WLN.C A YOUNGWOMXNLEAD © 2018 Young Women’s Leadership Network. All rights reserved.

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