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London, Ont. mayoral candidates discuss topics surrounding violence against women

Right to left: Khalil Ramal, Sean O'Connell, Sandie Thomas, and Josh Morgan at the Oct. 24 mayoral debate. Joe Henry / Twitter

London, Ont.’s mayoral candidates gathered at King’s University College’s Kenny Theatre Wednesday night to discuss topics surrounding violence against women.

The night featured Khalil Ramal, Sean O’Connell, Sandie Thomas, and Josh Morgan, hosted by FM96’s Andrea Dunn. It was organized by Anova, Changing Ways, King’s University College, the London Abused Women’s Shelter, and the Muslim Resource Centre.

“With the municipal election taking place on Monday, Oct. 24, we want to hear from the mayoral candidates on how they will continue to do the work that needs to be done to create a safe London for women and girls,” said a news release about the event.

All questions were asked by women with lived experiences and those who work in the sector.

When asked what prevention and intervention-based programs are needed in the city, Thomas got visibly emotional.

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“It’s so hard to talk about this because it shouldn’t be happening,” she said. “You have to implement measure that people have a way of calling out for help, where if you need to leave your situation, you’re able to leave that situation.”

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“Dealing with anger management in the homes, finding counsellors, wraparound services, to help in situations. It hits me right at home where I go back to when we had neighbourhood block parents, where I could run out of my apartment and into another and get safety.”

Ramal spoke about education and believing women when they call for help in his response.

“I believe our judicial system doesn’t treat women equally when it comes to sexual violence,” Ramal said. “We also have to have higher punishment for people who commit those crimes and violence against women in our society.”

Education was a strong topic in this particular debate. Morgan said as a father, it is his duty to educate his sons on how to properly treat and communicate with women and girls in their life to put an end to violence against women.

“That’s probably one of the most important things that I can do as a father because violence against women doesn’t stop unless men stop it,” said Morgan. “I can be a father who leads by example and chooses to talk to my children.”

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O’Connell said he finds that there should be more conversations and representation around racialized women and girls.

“People have a fear of the other, right?” he said. “They don’t understand another person’s culture or way of life. Quite often, that’s because they live in their own silo, and they don’t actually engage.”

“I always thought if we could have more of these public figures, that would help alleviate that issue somewhat.”

O’Connell said when people don’t talk and share their experiences, it leads to people becoming ignorant.

Within the debate, they also spoke about their plans to create a safe London for women and girls, how to engage men and boys in creating a safe London, and their plans for protection and emergency housing.

Londoners now will hit the polls in less than a week, as Oct. 24 quickly approaches.

 

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