In the Network: Media Co-op Dominion   Locals: HalifaxMontrealTorontoVancouver

Support the VMC, donate today!

Dominion Stories

Group notifications

This group offers an RSS feed. Or subscribe to these personalized, sitewide feeds:

Death Does Not Become Her: The Final Event

*Reposted from April 27th*

by Fazeela Jiwa Dominion Stories

Also posted by fazeelajiwa:

Sunday afternoon was the last event in a in a week-long series of events held during Prevention of Violence Against Women Week, held by the Urban Women's Anti-Violence Strategy. This is a new coalition comprised of independent women’s groups from the lower mainland who have joined together to criticize the Solicitor General’s Domestic Violence Action Plan for focusing the province’s resources on risk assessment and a death review panel, both of which take place after violence has already occurred. The Urban Women’s Anti-Violence Strategy calls for recognition of the essential role that independent and equality seeking women’s organizations play in ending the systemic inequalities that perpetuate violence against women.

The coalition screened filmmaker Angela Shelton’s autobiographical documentary, “Searching for Angela Shelton.” In 2001, the American activist/actress/director took to the winding highways of the United States to find every other Angela Shelton that would speak to her – her way of surveying American women across race and class. Shelton and her step-siblings were incested for years at a very young age before being removed from Shelton’s father’s care and into the care of an abusive foster family. She found and documented in her travels, that most Angela Sheltons in America had experienced some form of male violence. The film reminded us of the previous night’s discussion of the police response to violence against women, with the blunt fact that “none of the perpetrators (of the violence) spent any time in jail.” Shelton’s unique survey highlighted the immense prevalence of violence against women. One particularly salient quote from her grandmother brought this home: “If there are that many Angela Sheltons that were treated that way, then think about how many women that are not Angela Shelton who are treated that way.”

Despite the unconventional and intriguing method of illustrating the regularity of violence against women, I found the film to focus too much on women’s need to forgive and forget, as if that is the only way to move on after an attack. Self-care after an attack is essential, and women have many strategies to help themselves and other women to prevent the attack from ruling our lives. But the “forgive and forget” mentality does not hold the men who made the choice to beat and rape women responsible for their actions, and again puts the impetus on the woman to be benevolent, to hold back their anger and rage that he could have done this. I have not forgiven my attacker. I have not forgotten him or what he did to me or how it reverberates in every day. And in my work, I use the remembrance of that everyday injustice to fuel my own and other women’s resistance of patriarchy, and to fight for social change.

The series ended with a representative from each organization involved in the Urban Women’s Anti-Violence Strategy calling the audience to action. The message was loud and clear: this week’s events confirmed the alliance and leadership of women’s organizations during a pressing time that will only become more challenging with government cutbacks and an increase in the professionalization of grassroots, independent women’s services. The government may set aside some days that give the public an excuse to think about violence against women, but this week will not end it. The coalition calls for broad public support to continue their life-saving work. “Male violence continues to make front-page news – we need this to be the front page of your activism,” said Angela Marie MacDougall from Battered Women’s Support Services.

On each night of the “Death Does Not Become Her” series, the audience was asked to sign a toe tag to show their support for the equality-seeking work of the organizations involved. This shocking action made me feel a bit queasy at first, if only for the power of its symbolism. “The toe tags represent the risk to women, and your signature on them represents your support for us,” MacDougall explained. When risk assessment and a death review panel is the best that this government can come up with, it means that women have to be harmed or murdered before violence against them is considered a public concern. When it is considered, violence is seen in terms of individual cases rather than as a social phenomenon of gendered violence that can only be combated by seeking real equality for women – and that is led by independent women’s groups.

Catch the news as it breaks: follow the VMC on Twitter.
Join the Vancouver Media Co-op today. Click here to learn about the benefits of membership.


 "I have not forgotten him or

 "I have not forgotten him or what he did to me or how it reverberates in every day."

This is well put, this reverberating effect.  Thanks for articulating this.

"When risk assessment and a death review panel is the best that this government can come up with, it means that women have to be harmed or murdered before violence against them is considered a public concern."

Thanks for drawing attention to how this approach is bizarre, backwards, and hypocritical.

The new release of interview transcripts between Sunny Park and the RCMP before her husband murdered her and her whole family speaks to this fact.  She described a history of violence, as she sat there with a broken arm, and it wasn't considered that big of a deal until she and her family were dead.

Great series.


Thank you, Fazeela, for your

Thank you, Fazeela, for your careful and thoughtful attention to this and for your pin point analysis. Peace, Angela

User login