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Male victims of sexual assault often ignored

On Feb. 8th, a 28-year-old woman in Vaughan was charged with sexually assaulting a male student. The allegations are being investigated by the York Regional Police after someone came forward with information about a supply teacher for the York Catholic District School Board who had a sexual relationship with a teen between October and December 2017.

The supply teacher was employed occasionally since 2014. She is being charged with three counts of sexual assault and three counts of sexual exploitation.

Stories like these are rarely reported. The idea of a woman sexually assaulting a man is something many can’t fathom, but it does exist. According to a 2012 UCLA study, 38 per cent of all rape and sexual assaults are committed against men. The Canadian Children’s Rights Council, a non-profit that advocates on behalf of Canadian children, estimates that 86 per cent of these victims are dismissed, which leads to an increasing amount of unreported incidents.

There is also evidence that the number of sexual violence that occurs to men and women in their teens is rather similar — a difference between one in five and one in four.

“While the majority of sexual abuse is by males on females, anyone can be a victim of sexual trauma,” the men’s trauma centre in Victoria, B.C. says on their website. “Research suggests that between 20 and 30 per cent of all male children are sexually abused before the age of eighteen.”

“Despite the media stories of male survivors of abuse that have come out over the past few years, many people remain unable or unwilling to respond to this problem and the long term damage it creates both individually and at a societal level.”

The stigma associated with male victims of sexual assault if much different than that of women. While people think a woman may have “deserved it” for leading a guy on or acting in a way that could be described as promiscuous, it is assumed a man is enjoying whatever experience he is thrust into. That complaining about being forced to have sex is something a man would never do, and therefore it is not possible for a man to be raped or sexually harassed.

While it may be more rare for an adult man to be sexually victimized, it does happen, and those cases should be treated with the same level of respect and consideration as other stories shared in the MeToo movement.

Remembering the Montreal massacre

Dec 6 marks the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. This event is commemorated each year to mark the deadly Montreal massacre at the Ecole Polytechnique in 1989. A gunman went on a shooting spree, killing 14 women, most of whom were engineering students.

This somber day raises awareness of gender-based crimes. The shooter, who later turned the gun on himself, proclaimed his hatred for feminists and was actively targeting women enrolled in the engineering program, since in his mind he believed it should be a field of study for men. This senseless massacre left Montreal wounded, but all people in Canada, especially women, feel the loss as well. It is unfortunate that we still endure crimes based on gender and sexuality.

The good news is that the shooting did not deter women from enrolling in STEM ( science, technology, engineering and mathematics). In Toronto, a community gathering will be taking place hosted by the Department of Engineering. This is just one example of many small and private remembrance ceremonies that will be held around Canada.

Professor Deepa Kundur was a first year engineering student at UofT when the massacre took place in 1989. Today, she is the chair of Engineering Science and a professor at the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In the official press release, she noted the importance of her not being deterred by the shootings to leave an area of study.

“The university, the educational system is a very special and important place and it’s important to value education in fields like STEM where it provides opportunities for people where diverse backgrounds and opinions are needed very much.”

In Montreal, citizens are invited to attend the ceremony this evening at 5pm at the chalet on Mount Royal, which will feature 14 beams of light illuminating the night sky in memory of the 14 women who lost their lives. This is the 28th anniversary of what is still the worst mass shooting in Canadian history. Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau will be present to mark the ceremony and interact with other survivors of violence. The symbol in the campaign to end violence against women is a white ribbon.

The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is part of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, which started on Nov 25. This year’s theme is #MyActionsMatter and calls on people to speak up against gender based violence. The final event for the 16 days of activism is International Human Rights Day on Dec 10.

Share positive thoughts in the movement towards ending violence against women. Comment below

Why you could be a victim of digital kidnapping

As a parent, it is your priority to look out for and protect your children. It’s a natural instinct. What if I told you that in some ways you are putting them in more danger than you can imagine?Have you ever heard of digital kidnapping? Prepare to have your world turned upside down.

Social media platforms are easily accessible nowadays. Almost everyone has an online profile. It’s a place to share your inner thoughts, opinions, personal and even intimate moments — a new engagement, new home, new pet, a new vacation, and especially a new baby.

New mothers love sharing pictures of their children online, but some vow to post minimal or no pictures of their children. I’m not a mother myself, but understand the need or desire to share every moment of your precious baby with your friends and family. Their height, their weight, their likes or dislikes. Your child is your biggest accomplishment and you should be proud that child is all your own — but are they?

Look up hashtags like #proudmommy or #momspam ( I mean even I am guilty of using the #proudaunt tag) you will find thousands of happy kids or babies, sharing happy moments with the world. This is where the story get dark, now look up hashtags like #babyrp #childrp or #orphanrp. The ‘rp’ stands for role play. Your child’s picture has been taken by a complete stranger. Your child had a new name, a new life story, and a new mommy or daddy. Your child has been digitally kidnapped.

Before last night I never even heard of the term or trend, until I saw a Facebook article shared by an old university classmate. Her caption was simple, ‘this is why I never post pictures of my child online.’ The article led me to a news story of a young mom named April. In 2012, she gave birth to twins, Sophia and Vivienne. She was a mom that loved to post pictures of her children online. April even joined a special Facebook group where she would upload pictures of her babies, which were often met with adoring comments and support. Then, one day she got a message from a total stranger alerting her that her kids pictures were found on another woman’s page.

The twins were now named Adaya and Kamberlin. These babies had a new mom. Her name was listed as Ashley and she spoke about the love she had for her children and even shared false medical issues the girls were suffering from. April was a victim of a digital kidnapper. The police were not able to do anything as there was ‘no crime’ or actual harm to the children. Despite threats of legal action and reports of a false profile, Ashley kept posting pictures of her ‘children’. Flash forward to 2016, and April was still fighting this digital kidnapper and even appeared on an episode of Dr Phil where she revealed just how far the story escalated.

April and her husband hired a private investigator to investigate Ashley- this fake mom came with a criminal profile and a longstanding “history” of her twins being taken away from her by her mother. Worst of all, there were pictures of her fake daughters all over her house — on her bedstand, on the living room walls, and in the entry way.

While this story is extreme, it speaks volumes to the society we are living in. People share every moment and detail online for temporary hits of pleasure and satisfaction from virtual strangers and distant friends. This trend goes hand in hand with artists having their material stolen and passed off as someone else, or even online fraud and identity theft. People catfish everyday, pretending to be someone else in order to get a date.  Cases like this did not exist 10  to 15 years ago because your personal treasures and moments were kept in a photo album inside a drawer and pulled out only when close friends or family come to visit. Now, nothing is private and nothing is sacred. Our culture has evolved so dramatically that this is the new normal.

The babyrp hashtag has been hidden on Instagram due to reported content that doesn’t meet the website’s ‘conditions,’ but from the few posts that remain, strangers role play the lives of babies and kids, giving them an entirely different life and creepy fantasies. This is truly the dark side of Instagram and, as I said before, the trend is small but growing thanks to our obsession with social media. So, what can you do?

  • The obvious, would be to limit the amount of posts with your young kids on social media or use platforms that only temporarily share the pictures like snapchat or Instagram Story.
  • Don’t include any identity details in the pictures
  • Download an app that helps you watermark pictures, similar to professional photographers.
  • Tighten up your privacy settings: you have the option to make your profile private on sites like Instagram
  • Review your friends lists and make sure you’re actually willing to share these photos with your online friends and consider e-mail for larges sets of pictures

Digital kidnapping is not illegal and it is hard to control, just be aware of what you post online and make it difficult for people to identify your child as their own.