Women-Only Rape-Relief Shelter Defunded, Then Vandalized
Despite boycotts, threats, and a slaughtered rat nailed to its front door, this Canadian women’s shelter soldiers on.
This week, staff of the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter (VRRWS) in British Columbia found messages such as “Kill TERFS,” “F*** TERFS,” and — what else? — “Trans women are women” scrawled across their windows and walls. (“TERF,” for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist,” is a generally derogatory term for feminists who do not believe certain things about transgenderism.) This is not the first time something like this has happened. Three weeks ago, a woman seeking the shelter’s services was alarmed to find a dead rat nailed to the front door.
“The women who come to our support groups are rape victims and battered women,” says Hilla Kerner, VRRWS’s spokeswoman, who has worked at the shelter for 14 years. “One of them said to me, ‘Haven’t we suffered enough?’”
Founded in 1973, VRRWS is the oldest rape-relief center in Canada. Their staff is a collective made up of 20 women who serve around 1,200 women every year. Some of the staff are paid, others are volunteers, but they all do a lot of voluntary work. “Because you cannot change the world Monday to Friday, 9 to 5,” Kerner explains. “It’s a full-time life.”