Every time it feels like things can't possibly get any worse, Toronto politics finds a way to stoop to a new low. Rob Ford is engaged in yet another race to the bottom. Nonetheless, it's interesting to examine the attacks on Sarah Thomson, and the painfully-flawed logic behind them. But it's really worth examining the true meaning of the statements, and what it says about how sexual assault claims are treated. Exactly what burden of proof do we require before we believe a woman who claims assault? It seems that the court of public opinion requires a higher burden of proof than any other court in the land.
Every six days a Canadian woman is killed by her partner. As of 2010, there were 582 known cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. Globally, one in three women will be a victim of violence -- being raped, beaten or abused in her lifetime. In some parts of the world a girl is more likely to be raped than to learn how to read. But women have taken a backseat to the government's other priorities.We could certainly be doing more to help women who are suffering from HIV/AIDS, which in many cases in the developing world results from rape.
Senator Brazeau's arrest and jailing dominated the news this week. However, thousands of Canadians who have been through even the most minor domestic violence incident know that criminal law is applied with no mercy and no balance, well before anyone gets their day in court. While Senator Brazeau is the man in the spotlight, thousands of other Canadian men and women accused of a range of domestic violence have suffered the same punishments and the same obstacles to reconciliation while waiting for criminal courts to make decisions.
Whenever I hear someone state there are options for women when they are being confronted by a potential rapist, a shiver runs down the length of my spine and a knot forms in the pit of my stomach. It's not that I disagree that fighting off would-be rapists is appropriate in some cases. I just don't want to see one more guilt trip dumped on women who have been sexually assaulted and are made to feel that not screaming and/or not fighting is labelled "do(ing) nothing"! Are we still asking "Did she stop it?" instead of "Why did he do it?"
In advancing women's sexual rights in Canada we have made a critical error. We have deleted the word rape in public discourse and done a disservice to society as a result. I believe society has a case of disassociation when it comes to the term "sexual assault." It is problematic when ten people give you ten different definitions of a crime. I want details. I want specifics and I want the word rape brought back into the lexicon of everyday discussions.
Last week, I found myself -- yet again -- explaining why it is wrong to blame women for being sexually assaulted. Since a woman can be deemed "bad" for anything from wearing a short skirt, to not covering her hair, to having an opinion of her own, the game is clearly rigged. So I don't play. I don't care what a woman wears, says, or does: she does not deserve to be sexually assaulted. Period. Let's ask the real questions.
Dear a lot of people, but specifically Ms. Krista Ford, I feel like you owe me a moment of your time, even though we've never met. The circumstance being you called me a whore. I should clarify: I'm one of the victims of the recent string of sexual assaults in the Annex. 'Sup? It's nice to make your acquaintance. For the record, I was sexually assaulted while wearing a knee-length polka-dot dress. The last time I wore that dress, it was to Easter dinner at my Gran's, where I'm fairly certain I could make little to no money whoring.
People were shocked by the photographs that show Ugandan police brutally grabbing Ingrid Turinawe's breasts as she cried out in pain. Sexual assault is a public taboo in this deeply conservative country. However, the very public and sexualized nature of the attack on Turinawe seems to have been a defining moment for the women's movement of Uganda.
I remember when I was 11 years old, the boys were constantly lifting our uniform skirts to see our underwear. The boys were rarely punished and the girls took action by wearing their gym shorts under their skirts. It was a part of school life and no one really paid attention. How do we help our girls?
In 2011, we are many years past the point where any of the blame for sexual assault or sexual harassment should be pinned on the victim. That victims are in any way responsible is not the kind of message that police should be sending to the community and is certainly not a lesson that should be taught in schools.