Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Politicians Assaulted Decades Earlier Demand End of Rape Culture

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Politicians Assaulted Decades Earlier Demand End of Rape Culture

Article excerpt

End rape culture, say B.C. municipal politicians

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VANCOUVER - Margo Wagner and Joan Sorley had been friends for years before they realized they'd both been raped.

The British Columbia politicians were drawn to each other, among the few women on the Cariboo Regional District's board of directors, but it took time to share their stories of sexual assault.

For Sorley, her rape happened 50 years ago when she was 14 and babysitting. Sadly, she said, she wasn't surprised to learn about Wagner's trauma.

"We know how pervasive it is," she said. "I've spent the last 50 years, probably, being ashamed of this without really realizing that's what I was feeling. No one ever told me it wasn't my fault."

On Thursday, the women spoke about their experiences before hundreds of local politicians at the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver.

After a rousing and emotional debate, the union voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution calling for a task force to determine how to end the rape culture that is "pervasive in schools, universities, workplaces and elsewhere across Canada."

Delegates also voted to ask the task force to look at ways to improve reporting, arrest and conviction rates across the country.

Sorley said in an interview that rape culture had existed since she was assaulted decades earlier, though the phrase is still new to some people.

While the resolution didn't define rape culture, Sorley cited examples of what it looked like: a Pitt Meadows teenager forced to drop out of school after photos of her alleged assault were circulated, and University of B.C. students singing crude "rape chants."

"Nothing has changed in 50 years," she said. …

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