New online system will send out warnings about sexual assaults in Toronto
File Photo. (AP / Damian Dovarganes)
Carine Abouseif, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, July 14, 2015 5:05PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 14, 2015 5:05PM EDT
The woman known as “Jane Doe” is fighting back against sexual violence in Toronto with a new online warning system.
Doe and the Metropolitan Committee on Violence Against Women and Children announced the development of the application Tuesday morning at the Scadding Court Community Centre. It’s called “Safety Information System” or SIS, and it was developed by Doe and METRAC both to notify Torontonians about sexual assault incidents and provide other kinds of safety support.
Doe is an author and sexual assault activist. She is known for the case she won against Toronto Police in 1998. In 1986, Doe was raped by the man known then as the “balcony rapist”. The man, Paul Callow, entered several homes near Wellesley and Sherbourne streets and was convicted of raping five women at knifepoint. Doe sued Toronto Police for failing to warn the neighbourhood community about the attacker.
In press release on Tuesday, METRAC said that SIS will allow people in Toronto to share information about sexual violence with one another. The application’s sign up page lists a number of notifications that the application will send out. For example, the application will notify subscribers of danger by sending them police alerts and news stories about crimes committed in Toronto. The application will also send out prevention information and reminders about safety-related events and projects. Those who sign up will be able to get notifications through social media, email or phone.
The system was built by METRAC, a body created in the 1980s to implement safety recommendations for women. The project was funded by the City of Toronto and supported by Toronto Police, the press release said.
Tuesday’s event also featured a gallery of more than a hundred posters displaying warning messages written by people in the community. The messages are meant to differ from traditional warning. Instead, the posters shift the responsibility onto the attacker instead of the victim. The posters read phrases like “rape not” and “I didn’t ask for it.” “Just because she’s drinking doesn’t mean she wants sex,” another poster read. The gallery will be open to the public between 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. from July 13 to 20.
The notification portion of the system is still being developed, but METRAC’S website invites those who want to help test the system to sign up. An updated version of the system will be available in the fall.