Monday, October 3, 2016
Canada Needs a National Plan to Fight Campus Sexual Assault and Rape Culture
Despite the fact that sexual assault on campus is a national issue, Canada does not have a national strategy for fighting it, sexual harassment, and today's rape culture. This is disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. To top it off, you have officials like Justice Robin Camp saying vile things to a rape victim in Calgary in 2014 such as "Why couldn't you just keep your knees together?" and "Pain and sex sometimes go together" (https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/09/06/alleged-sex-assault-victim-to-testify-at-hearing-of-knees-together-judge.html). These are our judges in Canada? No one asks to be raped. No one deserves to be raped. Showing some cleavage or wearing a short skirt does not mean a woman is asking for it. This does not give a man license and permission to violate her in the worst possible way. Five brave women from five different universities across Canada have come together to demand calling for justice and a national organization to be set up where an online portal be set up to provide legal information, survivor resources, and advocacy. Three of the five women have made human rights complaints central to advocacy (Metro News, Monday, October 3, 2016, page 6). Mandy Gray, 28, is one such victim who has chosen to speak out. Her case is nationally known as her rapist was recently sentenced to 18 months in jail and has appealed his sentence. The PhD student in sociology at York University in Toronto filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal in 2015 and what she described as a "very long battle" with York after she was raped by a fellow PhD student in January. "I just wanted to return to campus without having to run into him," Gray told Metro News (Monday, October 3, 2016, page 6). Her complaint alleges many things, including a failure of school policies and a lack of trained staff and a centralized place to report and get information. York defends its support of rape victims by saying that it provides counselling and is in the midst of developing a sexual assault policy to comply with Ontario's new Bill 132. Gray's lawyer Joanna Birenbaum, however, says that her client's complaint demands much more from schools' sexual assault policies than the new legislation requires. "Women bear the brunt of this policy failure, sometimes at the cost of their education and careers," she told Metro News (Monday, October 3, 2016, pages 6-7). This is not mention the devastation of women's minds and bodies. The rape victim who bore the brunt of Justice Camp's disturbing comments said that she contemplated suicide as a result of her experience. "He made me hate myself, and he made me feel like I should have done something... that I was some kind of slut" (https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/09/06/alleged-sex-assault-victim-to-testify-at-hearing-of-knees-together-judge.html). Seriously? A rape victim doesn't need to feel any worse than she already does nor should she ponder killing herself. Camp should lose his job. This is unprofessional and unacceptable. Gray said that the larger political project lies in the new national network she and the four other victims are forming: "We're drawing the linkages between these cases to demonstrate this is, in fact, a systemic-level issue, and there needs to be some kind of oversight, an external body to hold these universities responsible" (Metro News, Monday, October 3, 2016, page 7). Furthermore, she addresses consent education or rather "the fetishization of consent education" as an easy PR tactic that costs far less money and time-wise than creating a comprehensive response to sexual assault. "My attacker knew what consent was," she said (Metro News, Monday, October 3, 2016, page 7).
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