If you see women (or men) around the city in the next month or so sporting purple streaks in their hair, they are likely doing so to raise awareness about the need to end violence against women in our society.
The purple streaks are one way some women and men are taking the annual Purple Ribbon Campaign to the next level.
The Women’s Contact Society is delivering the Purple Ribbon Campaign in Williams Lake starting Nov. 26 and running through to Dec.10.
“This is an opportunity for men, as well as women, to remember and acknowledge violence against women and to support the work of violence against women,” says society executive director Irene Willsie.
Williams Lake RCMP Staff Sgt. Ken Brissard agrees. The father of four children, he says his daughter in university asked him recently why so much effort is placed on teaching women how to stay safe when the same amount of effort should be put into teaching boys and men how to treat women.
For instance, he says we teach our daughters not to walk alone at night, to be careful not to leave their drinks unattended in a bar, not to hitch hike and not to park in a dark spot.
He agrees with his daughter that more effort needs to go into teaching boys and men that it is not acceptable to assault or use any form of aggression with a female, and that you don’t go out to cause trouble, steal, or break the law.
In an ideal society Brissard says: “I think we should live in a country where our daughters could hitch hike.”
The Purple Ribbon campaign is taking a three-pronged approach to raising awareness this year — distribution of purple ribbons and information cards, a purple hair extensions event, and an awareness luncheon.
The purple ribbons and cards will be distributed to stores on Monday, Nov. 26.
Intrigue Hair Studio is once again sponsoring the purple hair extensions event on Nov. 26 from 5 to 7 p.m. No appointments are necessary.
Last year 29 women and two men put purple in their hair for the cause.
The Violence Awareness and Prevention Committee of Community Policing is hosting the free lunch at the Seniors’ Activity Centre on Dec. 6 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The lunch is provided by the Cariboo Friendship Society’s Chiwid Transition House which provides shelter for women and children escaping abusive situations.
The Purple Ribbon Campaign coincides with the national Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women which was originally started to remember the 14 women who were murdered in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989 simply because they were women.
“The campaign remembers all women who have died violently and the many thousands of women who continue to live with abuse and to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of violence against women,” Willsie says.
“The purple ribbon, like the Purple Heart, symbolizes the injury and suffering of victims of violence, in this case not victims of war or political violence, but of violence against women in our homes, schools, neighbourhoods. Interpersonal violence is learned in our homes. We want to promote healthy values of love and respect.”
The Women’s Contact Society offers the following reasons on why it is important for men and women to speak out against violence against women.
• Domestic violence hurts our children, women, community and economy.
• Education is the key, not distrust, silence, or denial.
• Domestic violence has long-term community effects; 80 per cent of all violent criminals report a history of experiencing or witnessing violence as a child.
“We are asking businesses to partner with us to deliver Purple Ribbons to the citizens of Williams Lake,” Willsie says.
“Each participating business will display a poster in their window and the ribbon cards at their cash counter.
“The ribbons are free of charge and it is our hope that everyone will pick up a ribbon and wear it to show their support and add their voice to the efforts to stop violence.”
For more information please contact Irene Willsie, Women’s Contact Society
P.O. Box 4094, 301-19 North First Avenue, Williams Lake, BC V2G 2V2 – Telephone: 250-392-4118.