In recognition of Sexual Assault Prevention Month

I also rise today on behalf of the Liberal caucus to join with my colleagues in recognizing May as Sexual Assault Prevention Month — prevention month, Mr. Speaker. This was originally known as “Sexual Assault Awareness Month”. That name has changed because awareness of sexual assault is not enough. Prevention is what we all need to be working toward.

This year, the theme is “Call it what it is”, as mentioned from the members opposite — and it is “Alcohol and responsibility to get consent”. The theme works to highlight how too often — as mentioned by other colleagues in the House today in their amazing speech — alcohol is used as a tool and as an inhibitor of sexual violence. A lot of work has been done in the last few years to work toward defeating rape culture and our media and government campaigns are beginning to resemble this fundamental shift away from blaming the victims.

One campaign that I really want to mention here is a very, very powerful message from government is in Ontario — #WhoWillYouHelp — and it’s a public service video announcement on sexual assault. The video reminds us that when we, as bystanders, turn our heads and look the other way at inappropriate sexual behaviour, we somehow normalize it and allow it to happen. We need to ensure that we help our victims and step in to prevent sexual assault when we see the signs.

Although cultural shifts may be occurring, the number of victims who come forward is still thought to be as little as 10 percent of all victims of sexual assault. We need to continue the work together to end the stigma and support victims of these crimes.

A number of events will be taking place over the next few months to spread the awareness of sexual assault and they have been mentioned here today.

I would like to thank the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre, and also Les EssentiElles for the excellent work that they do locally to support women who need the help and also for organizing these very, very important awareness events.