Hundreds take to Boulevard De Maisonneuve to denounce rape culture and violence
Hundreds came together in solidarity for women’s rights and to challenge rape culture and violence against women, binary and the trans* community on Oct. 26 at Place Émilie-Gamelin.
“On vous croit. On vous croit,” which translates to “We believe you”—the crowd chanted in unison—as supporters marched down Boulevard De Maisonneuve. This chant reflected the crowd’s solidarity with women who have faced violence or have been subjected to rape culture. These are the issues that speakers addressed in an event held just outside of Berri-UQAM metro.
The event, organized by stop à la culture du viol, was created in light of current reports of sexual assault taking place in Université Laval’s Alphonse-Marie-Parent residence. According to the Montreal Gazette, two students who lived in the university residence were arrested on Oct. 21 for break-ins and sexual assaults.
President of Quebec’s Native Women’s Association and event speaker, Viviane Michel, asked the crowd to take a few moments of silence for the victims. “For me, for her, for you, for us all, we need this moment to underline the importance of these problems,” she said.
“Evidently, there is a huge responsibility that the government has, to give help to the victims, not for the short-term, but for the long term,” said Michel.
Université du Québec à Montréal student and protester, Vivianne Magnan-St-Onge, said addressing this issue is important for all women as situations of sexual violence can happen anywhere, even on a governmental level, such as with comments and actions made by politicians.
Marie-Lou Tang Turcotte, a biochemistry student at Concordia University and protester, said some of the announcers drew on the issue surrounding U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump’s discriminatory comments towards women. Tang Turcotte agreed with the speakers, and said excusing his language as locker room talk allows our society to think it is acceptable for people to speak this way about women.
Tang Turcotte reflected on another issue that the event’s speakers discussed, that of Lise Thériault, the Quebec’s ministre de la condition féminine, telling the Canadian Press in March that she does not identify as a feminist. Tang Turcotte said this is problematic because, as minister of women, Thériault should accept feminism as it addresses issues of violence towards women. Tang Turcotte said seeing this in our government is an issue, as it further creates a stigma that rape culture and violence against women is not prevalent in Quebec.
“Together, we must continue to fight. We must continue, together, to say no to all forms of violence,” said Michel to the crowd.