Victoria’s Walk a Mile event shines light on sexual violence

Fundraiser event promises humour – men in high heels – but not about the topic

Aaron Hall from Macdonald Realty gets help from Catherine Rolfe from the Ministry of Community Sport and Cultural Development to find a pair of size 15 high heels. Hall is preparing to take part in the annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event

A walk that started off as a way to bring men together to end sexualized violence has become much more.

When the international Walk A Mile In Her Shoes campaign began, male participants were encouraged to take a walk in high heels to raise money and awareness.

Since the Victoria Women’s Sexual Assault Centre began organizing its own walk six years ago, to coincide with similar events held internationally, men have been joined by their families, friends and other community members. High heels are optional.

Last year, about 500 attended the walk, an encouraging sign that more people are willing to talk openly about sexualized violence and how it can be stopped, said Quetzo Herejk, the centre’s volunteer co-ordinator and prevention educator.

“It’s a topic that’s really socially constructed that it’s not okay to talk about or stand up for, so to have people take a stance against sexual violence is always a positive outlook for sure,” she said.

“I think men are socialized to not talk about sexual violence, and so often it gets taken up as a “women’s issue” that women should care about.”

But research shows that it is a community issue, one that needs to be addressed by men and women, she said.

“Part of the event is about thinking, how can we as a community create a community that says (sexual violence) is not tolerable, that this kind of violence is not okay.”

Walk A Mile In Her Shoes happens Saturday (May 12), in Centennial Square starting at 2 p.m. For details, visit www.walkamilevictoria.com or call 250-383-5545.

emccracken@vicnews.com