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Truro women participate in G7 Women’s Summit in Paris

Linda MacDonald, left, and Jeanne Sarson attended the G7 Women’s Summit in Paris in May. They had the opportunity to discuss non-state torture with delegates from around the world.
Linda MacDonald, left, and Jeanne Sarson attended the G7 Women’s Summit in Paris in May. They had the opportunity to discuss non-state torture with delegates from around the world. - Lynn Curwin
TRURO, N.S. —

Initially, Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson suspected it was a hoax when they received an invitation to the G7 Women’s Summit in Paris.
“I first thought, ‘Is this real?’ and I contacted them to confirm it was legitimate,” said Sarson. “When we received the invitation, it was only a week before the summit.”
Finding it was legitimate, the Truro women, who formed Persons Against Non-State Torture (NST), quickly made plans and were in France for the meetings, which began May 9.
Persons Against Non-State Torture was one of three Canadian organizations that took part in the summit, which included 100 groups and activists from around the world.
“We talked to quite a few participants," said MacDonald. “Women from Africa were surprised to hear women and girls in more developed countries have many of the same problems. Women in many places see Canada as a beacon around feminism and equality, so it was a bit of a shock.
“We’re not being honest about what happens in our own country. Women and children are telling the truth and they’re not believed.”
Having the data on non-state torture easily available is something the women would like to see.
“We’re collecting a lot of data, but we have no place to put it,” said MacDonald. “We need people to see the data.
“At one time nobody wanted to listen, but we now have pockets of people who want to listen.”
She said they spoke with W7 advisory council members about the Nordic model of dealing with prostitution, where buying sex is criminalized but selling sex is not. It’s a model the women would like to see widely adopted.
While attending the summit, MacDonald and Sarson asked organizers why they had been chosen to attend. They were told it was due to their efforts at a UN meeting in Switzerland last year, where they urged global action be taken on domestic torture.
They were recently contacted about doing an interview for BBC Woman’s Hour and are working on a book.
 

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