Activist launches new initiative to prevent sexual assaults in GTA

WATCH ABOVE: Activist Jane Doe has launched a new project to prevent sexual assaults. Supporters are calling the social media campaign “revolutionary.” Christina Stevens reports.

TORONTO — A new initiative involving the use of social media to prevent sexual assaults is being launched in Toronto.

Jane Doe, a victim of sexual assault who’s identity is protected by a publication ban, is at the forefront of the project.

With the help of Toronto Police, Doe and anti-violence group METRAC are launching The “Safety Information System,” also known as SISTO.

READ MORE: York U student taking school to Ontario Human Rights Tribunal

It is a Twitter account that will tweet out a warning every time police report a sexual assault.

“It’s revolutionary,” said Doe. “It’s a new way of addressing the crime, it’s a new way of getting messages out about it and it is community based.”

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METRAC said information about things like safety-related projects, and messages from survivors will also be tweeted, but it won’t be a place for vigilantism.

After she was sexually assaulted at knife point in 1986, Doe successfully sued Toronto Police for not warning women in her community that a serial rapist known as the “balcony rapist” was on the prowl in their neighbourhood.

Doe believes statistics prove little has changed in preventing sexual assaults since she was attacked.

“I think the question we have to ask is why and what can we do to improve that?” said Doe.

The SISTO Twitter account will officially commence in the fall, but people are being encouraged to sign up now to help test it out.

York University student Mandi Gray was part of the SISTO launch and has taken part in an accompanying poster campaign.

Gray said she became an advocate for the prevention of sexual assault after allegedly being sexually assaulted in January.

She said the reaction to the assault by officials and the legal system has not been what she expected, and noted there are parallels between her case, and Jane Doe’s.

“She was assaulted in the 80’s before I was even born and here I am going through a very similar experience to what Jane Doe had gone through,” said Gray.

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Doe said she feels like her battle for change has come full circle.

She started out decades ago demanding that more information be shared with the public to prevent sexual assaults, and said SISTO goes right back to the same principle.

“[SISTO] is actually one of the best, and has made me more happy as a piece of work than anything else I’ve engaged in.”

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