Symposium to take indepth look at gender and sexual violence

Gender and sexual violence will be at the centre of a two-day symposium hosted at Brock later this week.The event, entitled Decolonize and Deconstruct: Imagining new approaches to sexuality and consent education, begins the evening of Thursday, March 30 and continues throughout the day Friday, March 31.A panel discussion will be held Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. in Academic South Room 201.The four-member panel will touch on topics including Islamophobia, indigenous perspectives, mental health and racism in relation to gender violence.The event will continue with a full-day symposium Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Plaza 600F, where several students, many of them survivors, will share their perspectives.“I want all of us to have a harder conversation about gender and sexual violence,” said event co-organizer and Women’s and Gender Studies Associate Professor Margot Francis.“We need to start looking each other in the eye and thinking about the hard work we need to do to address these issues.”While most people can say in relatively simple terms that gender and sexual violence is wrong, Francis said there is a deeper conversation that needs to be had.“I want them to think about, for example, how pervasive Islamophobia in society really intensifies misogyny and gender violence that Muslim women experience,” she said.“I want them to think about what it means to live in a settler society, the impacts of that for indigenous women, the horrific levels of violence they experience and the ways in which that’s structured in the history and the everyday lives of communities.”Student co-organizer Tegh Kaur Dhindsa called it critical for students to have a voice at the table during such a vital conversation.She’s hopeful the discussions had throughout the two-day event will help to shed light on systemic gaps that exist and bring to light actions needed to address those issues.As a woman of colour and a survivor of gender violence, Dhindsa said she’s experienced gaps in service that exist. She believes the symposium can help to impose change.Registration for Friday’s symposium is open until Wednesday, March 29 and can be done online.Decolonize and Deconstruct is co-sponsored by Brock’s Women’s and Gender Studies, McMaster’s Gender Studies and Feminist Research, Brock’s Human Rights and Equity Services, McMaster’s Equity and Inclusion Office, Brock’s Student Justice Centre, Brock’s Social Justice Research Institute and the Brock University Student Association.For more information, visit decolonizedeconstruct.ca.Panelists for Thursday, March 30Khadijeh Rakie of the Equity and Inclusion Office at McMaster University, who will speak about Islamophobia and gender violenceJennie Anderson of Six Nations Polytechnic, who will speak to indigenous perspectives on gender violenceAmeil Joseph of the School of Social Work at McMaster, who will speak to mental health and gender violenceKermeisha Williams of Black Lives Matter Hamilton, who will speak to racism and gender violencePanels and group discussions for Friday, March 31Laying the groundwork for decolonial/intersectional approaches to gender violenceListening to student perspectives on gender violenceReport back: What have we learned?De-constructing consent campaigns: How might our learnings transform campaigns?What arts-related initiatives are working now? De-colonial and intersectional arts initiatives