HAMILTON — Sisters in Sync is a Black-owned and operated organization in Hamilton that works to empower Black women and girls in various ways. This weekend they’re hosting an event called “Maybe Next Time”, aimed at reframing how we approach sexual violence prevention. We caught up with founder and Executive Director, Joëlle Kabisoso, to learn more about this weekend’s event, and the work that Sisters in Sync do year-round.
Sisters in Sync has an important mission: to support Black girls and women to be, become, and belong. They strive to accomplish this through a variety of different advocacy movements and programs.
The organization’s founder says their events aim to promote self-esteem and self-efficacy to empower Black girls and women to access opportunities, resources, and justice. They’re also hoping to address systemic social inequalities, barriers, and a lack of available/accessible services and information available to Black women in the GTHA.
“This weekend our main goal is to kick off our three-year advocacy campaign,” said Kabisoso.
Kabisoso explained that the campaign is aimed at finding new ways to approach hate crimes and violence against people of colour, and involve Black women in conversations about violence prevention. She said that Sisters in Sync recognizes that people are often revictimized due to a lack of resources, which is something the organization is looking to tackle.
“Just to ensure that people know what their options are, and the people in place are walking them [victims of assault] through the process,” Kabisoso explained.
How Sisters in Sync Came to be
The organization has an important mission and was inspired by the experience of Kabisoso, who is a survivor of a racially motivated gang rape.
She said that after her assault, she was tweeted about by her attacker, who shared details of the assault and called her racial slurs. Kabisoso explained that she did contact authorities, but did not press charges. She told The Brandon Gonez Show that she felt as though law enforcement did not take her seriously. She explained that detectives told her “maybe next time you shouldn’t drink too much”, and Kabisoso said she then felt further victimized.
“We should not be preparing women and girls to repeatedly go through these things,” said Kabisoso.
She explained that while all women can be victims of assault, more often than not Black women and girls are hypersexualized, and not protected by society.
“From such a young age we are seen as adults, as not needing protection.”
“The idea is that we should not be creating spaces for things like this to continue to happen. We have the responsibility to make sure our schools are equipped, our churches are equipped, so there won’t be another time,” Kabisoso continued.
“We can’t stop the violence as a whole but we can change systems and the ways that we respond to this violence.”
She also added that Sisters in Sync wants to abolish the idea that survivors of sexual or physical violence are in any way responsible for their assault.
“This idea that somehow you must have done or said something to invite that assault. In my case it was ‘well next time don’t drink so much’ even though it was well known that they [her assailant] roofied my drink,” Kabisoso explained, adding that Sisters in Sync wants to refocus the blame on the person who committed the assault.
“The purpose of this summit is to proactively identify underlying problems that can be addressed to reduce crime, increase rates of disclosure, and prevent instances of revictimization among Black girls and women,” said Kabisoso.
The event is happening on Saturday, March 18 from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM at 100 Main St W in Hamilton. Let’s leave some love for the trailblazers at Sisters in Sync in the comments.