media release

Anti-violence activists hook holiday violence to campaign

December 14, 2011

Catherine Murray, 778.782.5322, 604.838.5272 (cell),, (Port Moody resident)
Jen Marchbank, 778.782.7607, 604.996.6195 (cell),, (Surrey resident)
Carol Thorbes, PAMR, 778.782.3035,

While Christmas cheer prevails for many during the holiday season a spike in violence in the home and elsewhere indicates all is not well at this time of year say two Simon Fraser University researchers.

“The holidays are often a time of fear for ongoing victims of violence within the home,” says Jen Marchbank, an SFU associate professor of arts and social sciences.

“Christmas is a time when women are especially vulnerable to domestic violence, resulting from financial strain, poverty, alcohol consumption and endless expectations.”

Adds Catherine Murray, the chair of SFU’s Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies (GSWS), “As we head into 2012, gender-variant violence is becoming more than femicide in Canada. We need an integrated B.C. strategy, like Ontario’s or the U.K.’s, to combat gender-based violence in a variety of forms, including stalking of gender-variant youth, which often goes unreported.”

Marchank and Murray believe awareness raising campaigns and fundraisers, such as the recent Red Shoes, Green Belts, White Ribbons event they hosted, are key to helping society eliminate gender-variant violence.

“We believe we need to advance research scholarships on the topic of gender, sexuality and women’s studies to foster better understanding of gender-variant power imbalances and their social, economic and political consequences,” says Murray. “Ongoing funding of this kind of research could inspire policy makers and people at the grassroots level to more courageously acknowledge and tackle controversial issues related to gender-variant violence.”

The GSWS’ Red Shoes, Green Belts, White Ribbons event, an awareness raising and fundraising campaign, brought together politicians, activists, academics and representatives from 22 not-for-profit community organizations to discuss local anti-gender-variant violence strategies.

It coincided with an international 16 days of activism campaign against gender violence.

The SFU-based event raised $2100 in donations for a new graduate scholarship in gender, sexualities and women’s studies and attracted 90 audience members. They listened to well-known Vancouver personalities and SFU researchers discuss, among other things, the importance of high profile male figures, such as the NHL’s Pat Quinn and Wally Buono, getting involved in anti-bullying and anti-sexual violence campaigns.

The event’s participants agreed to dialogue in the coming year with a retired judge, who wants to create a toolkit of strategies to sensitize the judiciary to gender violence.

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