Where will you draw the line?

University District

Almost 200 people marched through downtown Kingston rallying against sexual assault

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Thursday’s annual Take Back the Night march featured the launch of the new Draw the Line campaign — a provincial effort to target bystanders in sexual assault prevention.

“The Draw the Line Campaign looks at bystanders and asks them through a series of posters — when you see something where do you ‘draw the line?” Kim Graham, community education coordinator at the Sexual Assault Centre Kingston and an organizer of the event told the Journal.

The campaign’s goal is to dispel common myths, open a dialogue and educate Ontarians about sexual violence.

The campaign is designed to be catchy and broad enough to include people from every walk of life, no matter their gender or sexual orientation.

The campaign’s signs, which were featured in the march, provide onlookers with statements like: “Your wasted friend staggers out of the bar with some guy … where do you draw the line?”

“I hope it creates a discussion amongst people,” Graham said. “Most people have really positive feedback on the campaign ... there have been some calls from South American countries who wanted to introduce the campaign and translate it into Spanish.”

The idea was sparked last summer in a big meeting with L’action Ontario and Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres (OCRCC) involving approximately 100 people in Toronto.

One out of every two Canadian women experience sexual and or physical violence in their life, she added.

Less than six per cent of sexual assaults are reported to the police and currently 95 women are on the waiting list for long term counseling by SACK.

“Get involved by taking a stand,” Graham said. “When you hear a rape joke, stand up and say it’s not okay. When you see something happen at a bar, step in. When you read something in the paper, write. I think bystanders’ actions can have a huge impact on making a change.”

This year’s event saw around 200 people come out to march and featured a large puppet of a woman put together by all those who came out to the event.

“It’s like a giant women taking back the night,” Graham said.

Take Back the Night held its first event in 1975, in Philadelphia, after a young women was stabbed by a stranger while walking alone just a block from her home. TBTN’s international headquarters were established in 2001 by the 18-year-old Katie Koestner when she spoke out against sexual assault after her own date rape. At the event, face painting and poster making were available along with ‘I need feminism because …’ postcards that participants were encouraged to fill out.

“The idea that there’s any sort of shame involved with sexual assault is so common but so ridiculous and [the event] is kind of taking back that shame,” attendee Steph Molzard, ArtSci ’13, said.

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