The Bro-Code ~ Episode 4

Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) and BCIT Radio Arts and Entertainment Students have collaborated to deliver The “Bro-Code” Radio Project for Prevention of Violence Against Women Week 2014. The “Bro-Code” is a seven episode radio drama that discusses sexual violence against women. The radio project was inspired by “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign which originated with Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton (SAVE) and explores men’s role in ending sexual violence.

The seven episodes feature the talent of three student writers and twelve student voice actors who dramatize complexities and dynamics in effect within youth culture around sexual violence. By speaking to youth the radio drama is well placed as girls and young women between the ages of 15-24 are the most likely victims of sexual assault.

“As someone who has experienced sexual violence first hand, I felt this was a great and creative way to help the issue. The series is entertaining, relatable, and educational hopefully it will help change the misogynistic attitudes of young men.” said Jenny Cooney, Producer.

We expect this project will help illuminate real choices for individuals about preventing sexual violence and the community the courage needed to get a handle on and reduce the incidence of profound rape culture.

Listen the second episode of The Bro Code below.

Let’s foster and ethos in Canadian society that urges men to support their female equals.

Episode Description: Carol sees a doctor and opens up about what happened the night of the party, they recommend her to BWSS for support and also share the importance of telling the police. Ben’s mom comes home from work and questions Ben about what happened the night before. Mandy from BWSS talks to Carol on Crisis Line 604-687-1867.

Written and Produced By:
Jenny Cooney
James Hutchison
Jill Pasquayak

Dan Johnson

Episode 3 Cast:
Ben-Sam Mitchell
Carol-Bronwyn Henderson
Zoe-Brooklyn Driediger
Zack-Andy Cole
Ben’s Mom/Nurse-Melissa Montgomery
Diane- Zahra Premji
Mandy- Jenny Cooney

Listen The Bro-Code’s past episodes here:

The Bro Code ~  Episode 1

The Bro Code ~  Episode 2

The Bro Code ~  Episode 3

Thank you for BCIT students for creating The Bro Codes radio spots to support youth cultural shifts, safer spaces and social change.

Find more information:

Creating Transformation, Prevention of Violence Against Women Week events here

BCIT students and Battered Women’s Support Services Collaborate to Prevent Violence Against Women

If you could do something to end violence against girls and women, wouldn’t you?


How can we improve public transit safety for women?

Our Executive Director Angela Marie MacDougall was live on The Early Edition at CBC to discuss Sexual Assault, Safety and Public Transit with Rick Cluff, Katie Nordgren, and Sergeant Wendy Hawthone.

Download and listen the postcast here. The following is a rush transcription of the interview:

Rick Cluff (RC): Chances are you’re getting ready to hop on the bus or train right now, and taking transit is usually a pretty mundane part of life, even boring at times, and taking transit is not supposed to be scary.  Transit Police say a number of sexual harassment incidents on buses and sky trains is on the rise and last week a White Rock man was arrested at Surrey Central bus loop after allegedly rubbing up against a 21 year woman on the bus.  Now according to a website launched recently by two SFU students, sexual harassment happens all too frequently on Translink.  Katie Nordgren is on of the site’s creators.

Katie Nordgren (KN):  You know I expected things to be shocking, but, there have been death threats, there have been rape threats, it has just been absolutely astounding to see what people have gone through simply trying to get from one place to another in the city.

RC: That’s Katie Nordgren, one of the creators of the website “Harassment On Translink” which gets several submissions a week.  Well tonight at UBC there’s a round table discussion about making transit safe for women and we’re joined in the studio by two of tonight’s speakers: Wendy Hawthorne, who’s a sergeant with Metro Vancouver Transit Police and Angela Marie McDougall who is the Executive Director of Battered Women’s Support Services.  Good morning to you both.

Angela Marie MacDougall (AMM): Good morning.

Sergeant Wendy Hawthone (SWH): Good morning.

RC:  Sergeant, let me start with you, what can you tell us about this latest sexual assault on transit?

SWH: The news release just came out and it’s one of our priorities for 2014.  It’s always been a priority but the chief has made this one of our major priorities this year in our commitment to be proactive in sex offense investigations and we are taking them very seriously.  We’re educating the public, encouraging them to report such incidents as this.

RC: This is the whole “If you see something say something.”

SWH:  See something, say something.  We need to know right away and this is a prime example where we were informed, a witness came and reported it and we were able to be there and arrest the individual when the bus came in to Surrey Central, I believe it was, and that is what our goal is for 2014, to be proactive and keep our system safe.

RC: You’re also asking for the public’s help identifying yet another suspect, what can you tell us about that case?

SWH: That was an incident at the Gateway sky train station.  Our victim was using the machine to purchase a fare.  She was an English second language student that had newly arrived to Canada and the gentleman in the video that we released to the news offered her assistance and helped her buy the ticket and then promptly started to hug and kiss her.  It took quite a while before she actually reported it, so we were very fortunate to be able to still continue our investigation and get this video out and we want to identify this individual.

RC:  How common are incidents like these?

SWH: We believe it is far more common than we would like to admit.  We believe that only about ten percent of incidents of sex harassment and assault are reported to police, not just transit police, but all police.  So we are really encouraging the victims to come forward and witnesses, as well.

RC:  And how many are reported when you say ten percent, what’s that number?

SWH: I don’t have those numbers, I’m afraid, today.

RC: Angela, what goes through your mind when you hear these things?

AMM: Well, I think one of the most challenging aspects of taking public transportation as a woman is enduring those boys and men who exploit the shared space and put our safety in jeopardy.  I think that this particular type of gender violence where we experience sexual harassment and sexual assault on public transportation is endemic and it’s an epidemic, not only in this region here but across the lands.  If we think about, we’ve all heard about the horrific sexual assault that happened in India where a woman was raped and who died as a result of her injuries, that happened on a bus.  And so, you know, across the lands there are efforts to address gender violence in this way, sexual harassment and sexual assault on public transportation.  So what comes to mind is that we’re just starting this process here, in this region, and it matters very much that we are speaking to this because some of the surveys that have been done in other regions, Manhattan is one, notes that four percent are actually reported and that for the women that we deal with, myself and other women, we’ve all experienced some form of sexual harassment or sexual assault while on public transportation and you know, it’s not as if this issue is not within the context of gender violence as a whole, where we’re not only not safe on public transportation, but also not in our homes, and in our work places.

RC: Sergeant, transit is crowded, how do you distinguish between what is sexual assault and what might be innocent accidental bumping?

SWH: I think basically we want to investigate everything and that’s for us to determine in that investigation what the intent is.  Any unwanted touching of a sexual nature is a sexual assault.  We realize it is crowded and that is why we are educating our passengers, not just women, (I want to say this, the vast majority are, but we have had some incidents involving males) to use the tools we can give to them to protect themselves and to determine that, and when in doubt, what’s most important is yes, tell us, and let us investigate.

RC: What are those tools?

SWH: The tools are to understand the safety features that are there: the yellow strip, the emergency strip on the window, it’s a silent alarm that indicates where your train is and that you need assistance there, it’s silent, it’ll bring a staff member, generally an attendant on the train to check things out.  There is an emergency speaker phone on the train as well and emergency cabinets on all of our platforms.  As well on buses we encourage women to sit in aisle seats so that they don’t become sort of against a window and blocked from access.  Be Aware of your environment, we tend to tune out.  We have a little hand out device advice and it tells people put one earphone in instead of two and be aware and listen and look at people around in your environment.

RC: So Angela, what do you have to accomplish at tonight’s round table?

AMM: I think the biggest piece that we have to do is to really draw attention to this.  We know that there are sizeable number of men who are engaging in this forum of gender violence and that we want to speak of course about how women can be safe but we also want men to stop.  There are actually men who will go on to a skytrain or a bus for that purpose, in order to do sexual violence to a woman, on the skytrain, on the bus and we want that to stop.  So, tonight, I think it’s really important for us to talk about this, for women to share their stories and to not only talk about the ways in which law enforcement plays a role, but really to look at the way in which the community can take this on.  And to look at a number of different campaigns and tools and ways that we can make change.

RC: You talk about changing the culture on transit, what do you mean by that?

AMM: Well, I mean, I think we have a culture on transit right now where those that seek to do sexual violence against women and girls do so with impunity.  The very first thing that we need to do is to say that out loud, and to recognize that this is a reality, and to begin empowering women and bystanders to speak their reality, and also to say to those men and boys that would do that behaviour to stop.

RC:  Let me put to you the same question I put to Wendy and that was, often we hear victims don’t come forward because they don’t know whether what happened was worth reporting so what actually constitutes sexual harassment on transit as opposed to, as I mentioned, innocent bumping or jostling on a crowded skytrain or bus?

AMM: Well we all know we’re not talking about innocent jostling or bumping, we’re talking about predatory behaviour.  We know what it is when we feel it, we know what it is when we experience it and when we see it.  There’s often no doubt when we experience it.  The doubt comes after the fact, in terms of whether somebody is going to take us seriously.  So this event tonight, this conversation we’re having right now is to say that we take it seriously and that there is significant impact for those of us that experience sexual assault, harassment on transit, and that includes anxiety, fear about being in public spaces, having tremendous amounts of intense fear, sleep disturbances, nightmares.  For those women that have come forward, it just takes time.  It’s not something necessarily that we want to talk about right away because we’re worried that we’re not going to be believed or that we’re going to be blamed.  And that blame for being out at night, for talking with somebody, for having our headphones on, for not using the strip, whatever the list of the things that we could be blamed for.  So we like to put the behaviour and the accountability for those that would seek to do that predatory action.  And the part about us is talking about it as women, but we want, you know, men to understand that this is an issue around men’s behaviour and we want more and more men to speak about this as an issue for men and the culture of masculinity.

RC:  Well, best of luck with the event tonight.

SWH:  And, just, transit police are committed to listen and we just want to let people know we have, you can text us now at 877777.  It’s real time.  If you witness, or you’re a victim, anywhere in the lower mainland on public transit we will get your message, we transcend all police jurisdictions, so if we can’t be there we’ll get our police partners out there.  And we will be having an app coming out in the near future as well.  We are committed to making our transit system safe for all our passengers, and in particular in this area.

RC:  Thank you both for coming in this morning.

AMM: Thank you Rick.

SWH: Thank you.

RC: Wendy Hawthorne, Sergeant with the Vancouver Transit Police and Angela Marie MacDougall, the Executive Director of Battered Women’s Support Services.


2013 Collective Action for Safe Spaces’ Transit Safety Survey shows that 67% of women almost never feel safe taking public transit late at night.

  • 72 percent of respondents use public transit late at night (12am or later) at least once a month, with nearly half (47 percent) using public transit late at night at least once a week.
  • The majority of respondents indicated that they feel safe only “some of the time” (43 percent), “hardly ever” (17 percent), or “never” (7 percent) while taking public transit alone, while with less than one-third indicating that they felt safe either “always” or “most of the time.”
  • Nearly 30 percent indicated they use taxis late at night at least once a week, and 50 percent indicate that they feel safe taking taxis late at night by themselves.
  • However, cost is often a barrier and over 40 percent responded that they “sometimes” or “often” walk or bike late at night because they cannot afford to take a taxi.

And, though sadly this may not come as a surprise to the many of us who frequently experience street harassment, survey respondents shared that they had experienced the following forms of sexual harassment and assault while walking, biking, riding public transportation, or taking taxis or car services late at night:

  • 90 percent experienced at least one form of harassment or assault
  • 83 percent experienced verbal harassment
  • 71 percent experienced leering
  • 39 percent experienced following/stalking behaviors
  • 20 percent were rubbed up against
  • 8 percent experienced groping, public exposure/flashing and public masturbation

Tonight join us at Women Trasforming Cities Café XIV: Sexual Assault, Safety and Public Transit Women for an evening of discussion and planning for action on this critical issue.


Last year, Battered Women’s Support Services responded to over 10,000 crisis calls from women and girls to get help and end violence. We could not provide this essential support without your contribution.


University of British Columbia Must Address Rape Culture on Campus

by Ela Esra Gunad, BWSS Manager of Communications & Resource Development

Last week Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) came together with students and community at University of British Columbia (UBC) for Take Back The Night Rally and March in response to six reported sexual assaults on campus. UBC officials continue to focus on women and how they should protect themselves while not addressing the need to challenge the very visible rape culture on campus nor calling out to the man who feels entitled to commit these sexual assaults with no impunity. Telling women not to walk alone at night and to carry safety whistles cannot and will not build safety on campus. These actions do not address the real contributing factors and roots of sexual violence. They do perpetuate the gender inequality and the belief of men that they have the right to use violence against women. With more than 200 people, we,  women and our male allies marched in the Take Back The Night (TBTN) Rally on Wednesday night to use our voice against rape culture, address the reality we are living in our society and take action to create safe space for women to live free from violence.

image002These six sexual assaults are not separate and isolated incidents, they are part of the larger systemic and societal issue of violence against women. The normalization of rape, victim blaming, and lack of trust and confidence in university authorities and the criminal justice system results in the majority of sexual assaults on campus not being reported. There are far more sexual assaults occurring on campus than we may want to ever know. 52% of the student body on UBC campus are women trying to get an education. Women have the right to safety and the right to access education without being in constant fear.

UBC is perpetuating the rape culture and the patriarchal system that allows violence against women to continue by focusing on women and their behaviors. We acknowledge the history of how settlers came to stand here on the Unceded Musqueam Territory that UBC currently occupies,is directly tied to the callous acts of violence against women. The university authorities continue to hold women responsible for their safety while not sending a single message out around the behaviours and attitudes of men on campus. The perpetrator(s) behind these assaults are men. UBC is responsible to shift the behaviours done and attitudes held by men and ensure safe space for girls and women to have equal access to education. BWSS asks UBC to address the rape culture on campus, ensure women have equal access to education as male students, and focus on changing the attitudes and behaviors of men who choose to use violence.

The RCMP is declining to release the sexual assault statistics for UBC. But, we know the highest rate of sexual violence against women occurs on campus within the first eight weeks of classes. As a university knowing that, we want to hear what UBC is doing to address this reality, what efforts UBC is putting to provide a safer campus without holding women responsible for those incidents. We see UBC is considering changes to security and increasing the number of security officials. However, this is simply not enough to guarantee women the exercise and enjoyment of basic freedoms on a basis of equality with men. We want to see the academic works of UBC around strategies and practical measures on the elimination of violence against women not only on paper, but also in practice.

Gender-based violence has serious long-term impact on the emotional, cognitive, physical, social, and spiritual well-being of women. To achieve lasting change and end violence against girls and women, the university needs to revise and develop policies and systems and apply them into all aspects of the university from departments, programs, student groups to curriculums. UBC should consider the crucial importance of recognizing the reality of rape culture to conduct reliable investigations. As an anti-violence organization working over 30 years to end violence against women, we invite UBC to work with women’s organization in this process and have needed imput from women’s organizations.

Over many years, Take Back The Night (TBTN) has been taking place as a way to stand against sexual violence, speak out against rape culture and demand women’s safety on our streets, in our communities, in our society. Women are continuously harassed and assaulted both day and night all over the world. Every 17 minutes in Canada, a woman is raped. As a result, the first Take Back The Night in Canadian history was held in Vancouver in 1978. After 35 years, women in Vancouver came together on Unceded Musqueam territory at TBTN to urge UBC, Campus Security, and the RCMP to stop blaming victims and survivors of sexual assault and to take steps to change the culture of violence. Until this happens, UBC and authorises to serve and protect continue to fail women.


The change will come with our brave steps. As our Executive Director Angela Marie MacDougall says, “Each of us have the power and the responsibility to take a stand against gender violence. Today, we are seeing the women of our community standing together in their power, reclaiming their voice and taking to the streets taking back what is rightfully theirs”.


As an institution of education, UBC has a responsibility to educate male students and the larger community on campus about the reality of rape and the impact and to alter any attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate such a culture. Battered Women’s Support Services demands UBC to recognize and to work on changing the current rape culture on campus. This can be started by putting an immediate stop to victim blaming, holding men accountable for their actions, and developing programs and systems including a trustworthy and accessible process for reporting sexual assaults.

Until all girls and women live free from violence, we will continue to take action and call on UBC to take effective measure to guarantee human rights and safety for women!