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London’s Shine the Light campaign raising awareness of gender-based violence hits 10-year mark

The Shine the Light on Woman Abuse campaign holds an event in Victoria Park in 2015.
The Shine the Light on Woman Abuse campaign holds an event in Victoria Park in 2015. AM980

Victoria Park and many buildings across London will be awash with purple beginning on Friday night as part of the annual Shine the Light on Woman Abuse campaign.

The campaign, which was started 10 years ago by the London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC), aims to raise awareness and show women who are experiencing gender-based violence they are not alone.

This year’s campaign kicked off on Friday with the Lighting of the Tree of Hope ceremony at Victoria Park.

READ MORE: Londoners ‘shining the light’ on gender-based violence with 10th annual campaign

At a media launch event last week, Megan Walker, executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre, said that every year, the campaign results in a significant increase in the number of women seeking help.

“When you wear purple or when you shine your building or your workplace purple, women ask why, and it gives you the opportunity to say: ‘We stand with you,’” said Walker.

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“This is about honouring the lives of women and children in our community and creating a safe environment for all women and girls.”

Last year, LAWC served 8,081 women, which Walker said is an increase of 103 per cent in just two years.

At the event, LAWC also unveiled this year’s honourees: Natalia Jimenez and Sonya Cywink.

Jimenez, a domestic abuse survivor who moved to London from Colombia, was nearly choked to death by her ex when she tried to leave him in 2014.

Speaking through a translator, Jimenez says she accepted the honour to represent immigrant women, especially those from Latin America.

READ MORE: One woman’s 25-year fight to find the person who killed her sister

Shine the Light’s other honouree, Cywink, was a pregnant 34-year-old from Whitefish River First Nation who went missing in London in August 1994. She was later found dead in Elgin County with signs of blunt-force trauma. Her murder remains unsolved, and police continue to seek tips.

Cywink’s sister spoke at Friday’s event in Victoria Park, which began at 5 p.m.

People are also encouraged to show their support for the campaign by wearing purple to school or work on Nov. 15.