Sook C. Kong's Press Statement

I speak as a very concerned individual, as an active member of several community groups, as an educator of university-age students, and as a writer who works to end violence. I am here to take strength from as well as give strength to this press conference organised by Vancouver Rape Relief and Women¹s Shelter. 

I am here to express unwavering solidarity with all girls and women in pain and anguish from being persecuted because of their gender. I am here to specifically express my strongest concern, and that of many women at the grassroots level, in many walks of life, of diverse cultural heritages, who are filled with dismay, consternation and justified outrage at this year's series of violent, even homicidal attacks against Asian women, women who have been racialised. While one is always cautious about these things, it does not take too much to see from media-reported incidents alone, that there is a pattern of targetting racialised women. The women violently attacked have included Ji Won Park, and at least three other women, unnamed by the media, Asian women: one 13-year-old was attacked and sexually assaulted in her dormitory; another Asian woman was attacked and sexually assaulted when she was making a call at a public phone booth; the third was the 38-year-old Asian woman who was attacked by four men, severely beaten by them---men who kept trying to abduct her by forcing her into the trunk of their car. The Asian woman fought back, was constantly bruised and injured. She kept struggling with her four male assailants, reported to be white or European Canadians. Finally her screams and struggles woke up the residents of North Burnaby who called 911. 

That was the same neighbourhood and same day where top college student, 21-year-old Amanda Zhao Wei was abducted, and subsequently, brutalised, and murdered. The media has told us that her body was thrown down a ravine near Stav Lake, outside of Mission. 

Till today, the public has not been informed where the attackers and killers of the women are. 

Meanwhile, as girls and women who have been racialised, as Asians of the female gender, we are left to fend for ourselves. Fortunate if we have networks and communities. Unfortunate if we don't. This ought not to be the case: the right to safety and security is the right of everyone, a right protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights. Those concerned need to ask themselves: what is being done and continues to be done to ensure security of person and safety from harm for everyone, for every sector of people of the Lower Mainland, of BC, and of Canada?  

Certainly, on our part, as racialised women, we will not be threatened, intimidated, harassed, nor silenced. We will continue to do our part to prevent violence, to speak against its heinous effects, to stop brutalisations and murders of girls and women. We will not rest till everyone is safe from harm and attack. 

I ask institutions in particular: institutions such as the media, its editorial boards, its owners: What have you done, and will continue to do in the eradication of gendered and racialised violence against women, a struggle that enmeshes us all? 

Violence against women, including murders of us, is not an issue affecting Asian women only. I grieve for, and mourn for all girls and women, all Native girls and women, who have been assaulted, brutalised and killed by violence, including the women from the Downtown East Side, whose disappearances and deaths went uninvestigated for years. That should never be the case. All life is sacred, and should have unstinting legal, political, and ethical protections. It is never ethical, never conscionable, never right, never acceptable that some lives are more valued than others. The issue of violence perpetrated against women is part of a larger problem, a problem that is also systemic, that stems from masculinised and racialised aggression and hostility, and has to be solved at the roots for the violence to be truly eradicated. It is unacceptable to just soothe the issue at the level of symptoms. 

All of us, all groups in Canada, we need to work together to end violence immediately. It is too costly to delay it till tomorrow. 

It would be to the point to see more men take leadership in the struggle to end violence against girls and women. It would be good to see the immediate end of all racialised and gendered stereotyping, that feeds, and is part of, the pernicious abyss of violence. 

Let us all end violence: NOW.