December 11, 2018

BY EMMIE SIROKY

The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region developed a program for men in 2008 that teaches them about healthy masculinity in today’s society and how to end sexual violence against women.

Male Allies against Sexual Violence is a program that shows men of all ages how to respect women and explains how feminism (the advocacy of equality of the sexes) benefits both genders.

“If you want healthy girls you need healthy boys,” said Stephen Soucie, program co-ordinator for MAASV.

The program was initially run through SASC, but in 2013 it received funding to hire a full-time staff member who now runs it.

“We look to engage men and boys in public education,” said Soucie. “A lot of guys grow up not really knowing how to connect. (Men try to interact with women by) cat calling, saying sexist and homophobic remarks, and even inappropriate touching.”

Women are also victims of sexual abuse, mental abuse and other crimes.

According to smartoncrime.ca, only one in eight sexual assaults in Canada are reported to the police. In 2012 there was no wait list for men to see counsellors, but the number of women waiting to see a counsellor reached an all-time high.

There are many blogs, websites and programs across Canada that support men joining the fight for feminism and equal rights for all.

A lot of people hide when they hear the word feminism, but one Conestoga student is all for the MAASV program.

“I think it’s extremely important that men are educated on things like (feminism) and they understand where we have been and where we are now and where we need to go to,” said Nicole Geertsen, a first-year bachelor of community and criminal justice student at Conestoga College. “(Education is needed) to make sure they understand that feminism isn’t about suppressing men’s opinions.

It’s about making everything equal for everyone. That would be a very valuable program for people around here to have.

MAASV programs are held at 151 Frederick St. in Kitchener, inside the Sexual Assault Centre of Waterloo Region.

For more information email info@sasc.org or call 519-571-0121.

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