TRURO, N.S. – A wide array of topics were presented at a feminist roundtable session held in Truro this week.
The event was organized by Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River MLA Lenore Zann, who recently spoke out publicly about being a target of sexual misconduct in the past. Representatives of groups and agencies from across the province took part.
Young people from the recently formed Truro Youth Council for Community Improvement (TYCCI) stressed education about consent needs to begin before Grade 9, the first time they heard it discussed in class.
“Grade 9 is much too late,” agreed Jeanne Sarson, a former nurse who is one of the founders of Persons Against Non-State Torture. “When I was a public health nurse I had children in Grades 3 and 4 asking specific questions about sex.”
Linda MacDonald, co-founder of Persons Against Non-State Torture, said she feels it’s important that more “johns” be prosecuted and convicted, to change the rape culture.
The issues of anonymity in rural communities, a lack of mental health services, and a lack of stable funding for services were also discussed.
“I’m doing a lot of work with incarcerated woman, and the huge majority of them are victims of sexual violence,” said El Jones, an activist, poet and chair of women’s studies at Mount Saint Vincent University. “We’re taking women that have serious trauma and incarcerating them.”
Cheryl Maloney, a former president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association, noted there is often no one speaking for boys, also, at times, the subject of sexual misconduct.
“The time is now for us to reach out and stand up and try to make a difference,” said Zann.