Eaton Hamilton

"I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.” – Lillian Hellman

Tag: The Preludes to Assaults

Canada is Raping You

#Ghomeshi ##gomeshi #ibelievelucy #IStandWithLucy #BillCosby #hairextensions #truthmatters #rapeculture #cndjustice #sexualassault #dowomenlie #canadaisrapingyou #rapeisrape #womensrights #listentosurvivors

The complicity of the Canadian state in rape is a prelude to assault.

We have debunked the myth that the blame for sexual assault lies with the victimized.* Verdict after case not tried after case not reported assures us the fault doesn’t lie with the offender. According to Stats Can, only 3 out of 1000 sexual assaults in this country end in conviction.

Folks, there is only one other place to land fault: With the government of Canada, which is failing to protect you, and in failing to protect you, creating the misogynistic atmosphere that virtually assures your victimhood.

Here is part of your Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which indicts the government for all of us to read:

Section 7: right to life, liberty, and security of the person.

Section 12: right not to be subject to cruel and unusual punishment.

Section 15: equal treatment before and under the law, and equal protection and benefit of the law without discrimination.

Canada is courting rapists, and their statistical shout could scarcely be louder: Rapists, please, go for it.

Once, residential schools were legal. Once, Japanese internment was legal. Outside of our country, apartheid, the holocaust and slavery were legal.

Now, in Canada, rape is surely the next thing to legal. Rape is used as a tool of power and control to maintain the status quo and it establishes a dominance our legal system entrenches.

If you were a Canadian rapist, and you knew that you could rape with impunity, would you be likely to stop?

At least 1 out of 4 Canadian women is raped. Imagine 4 women in your life. Imagine 8 women. Imagine 16 women. Of those 16 women, 4 at least will have been raped. All of them will have experienced the preludes to assault, including the sure knowledge that if they are next, they will be unprotected by the law.

33 women out of 1000 raped women come forward. Imagine if only 33 out of 1000 break and enter victims called police. We would know something besides our front window was broken.

6 out of 1000 sexual assaults go to court. That’s how many victims Canada finds credible, and most of those complainants will be undermined—by introducing irrelevancies that don’t pertain to the assault.

Furthermore, only 2-8% of women lie about rapes, which is less than the percentage of people who lie about robberies, car accidents and assaults. Yet the outcomes to the different crimes are radically different.

Does anyone—even within the law profession–really imagine that the complainants in the Jian Ghomeshi case had equal treatment under the law, and equal protection and benefit of our laws without discrimination? Or do our Charter protections only come into play if you’re charged with a crime? Do women’s equality rights end when an abuser puts his or her hand on her? Do they end later when she reports to police? Or does she retain them until she is “whacked” in court?

I cherish our Charter.

As one of the litigants in Canada’s same-sex marriage case, I sat in Beverly McLaughlin’s courtroom in Ottawa as the court debated the reference questions from Parliament about changing our constitution to include queers in 2005. What living Canadian would I most like to have dinner with? Beverly McLaughin.

Our Charter is a living tree. It is meant to branch and change over time. I have watched it grow, quite literally under my fingertips. For a long time after the Charter’s advent in 1985, we had a program called Court Challenges, which provided funding to lawyers to challenge the constitution. The Harper government got rid of it and just this week the Libs announced they’re bringing it back.

Lately people, especially lawyers and pundits, seem stuck in the idea that we can’t change how sexual assault cases are tried. I find this notion bizarre and ridiculous.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead

Neil MacDonald in an article for the CBC (linked below) maintains that I mock due process. And, in fact, he’s only half wrong: I regard it warily. If it is used as a means to justice, I admire it. If it is used to psychologically batter (almost always female) complainants, I do not admire it.

One is called to wonder why we value rapists’ freedom so very much that 2999 victims out of 3000 don’t have the reassurance that their rapists will be jailed for assault. Is it really better to let 2999 guilty offenders off the hook in order that one innocent one doesn’t rot in jail? Are abusers 2999 times more important than their victims?

Because that’s what we’ve been saying with how we utilize due process in sexual assault cases.

Leah McLaren has written in the Globe and Mail about the UK system of trying sexual assaults. It has changed there, and it can change here:

“The British court has significantly changed the way it deals with sexual-abuse trials. Most complainants are now interviewed and videotaped by police at home and not required to retell their story live in court. Complainants are then cross-examined via video link in a separate room from the defendant to avoid potential intimidation.

Defence counsel are required to make a special motion in advance if they want to bring up the complainant’s sexual history or conduct unconnected to the alleged incident. They must also, in most cases, submit their questions for cross-examination in advance, to be approved by a judge before trial. Neither are defendants given a choice to be tried by judge or jury. Virtually all serious crimes are tried by jury in Britain.

In the aftermath of the Jimmy Savile scandal and Operation Yewtree, it simply isn’t possible for defence lawyers in Britain to ambush and “whack” complainants in sexual-assault cases the way they once did (and the way, as some say, they are still perfectly entitled to in Canada). In Canada, by contrast, we still have a system that continues to fail the very victims of sexual assault it was designed to protect.”

We know the answer for why Canada has organized itself to dissuade victims from reporting their assaults. It’s because of systemic misogyny. Courts and the law have been formed and shaped by (elderly white) men to perform for (elderly white) men. At each step along a woman’s post-rape path, the system must step on her back and she must learn just how unimportant and impeachable she is as a citizen. Because if women didn’t stay down, misogyny would crumble.

Guess who will stop Canada from treating women like this, if you don’t? You know the answer: No one.

Here’s a radical idea:

Survivors who have been decimated in Canada’s courts, whether in the Ghomeshi case or in other sexual assault cases, might band together, preferably in several provinces at once, find a lawyer interested in constitutional law and sue the Federal government for abridging their Charter rights.

Readers will want to tell me, I know, how my analysis is skewed and this can’t possibly be done, given Canada’s current legal structure, but please save your breath.

Don’t tell me how it can’t be done, tell me how it can be.

And then show me.

 

*I use the word victim to refer to victims and survivors and complainants. I use the word men to also stand in for other genders. I use the word women to also stand in for other genders. I use the terms rape and sexual assault interchangeably despite the fact that “rape” is not legal terminology in Canada.

Court Challenges:

Relevant Dates:

  • 1978: First court challenges program for language rights.
  • 1985: Program expanded to cover Charter equality rights.
  • 1989: Standing Committee on Human Rights and the Status of Disabled Persons carried out a study, hearing from 62 witnesses. It concluded unanimously that there were “not merely sufficient, but compelling reasons” for continuing the Program
  • 1992: The program was cancelled by the Conservative government.
  • 1994: Under a new Liberal government the CCP was reinstated under the Department of Canadian Heritage (it is later made into an independent non-profit corporation)
  • September 2006: Program abolished by the Harper government.
  • May, 15 2007: Parliament’s Official Languages committee stops functioning after the Conservative chair refuses to hear witnesses on the government’s decision to axe the CCP.
  • June 2008: The Harper government restores funding for the linguistic rights part of the former CCP, now operating under the name the Language Rights Support Program.

Role or Position

The Court Challenges Program (CCP) provided funds to support test cases of national significance. Specifically, court cases that clarified the constitutional rights of official language minorities and/or those pertaining to equality rights of Canadians.

Implications and Consequences

  • Equality: Access to justice in equality rights cases is severely limited and is available mostly to those with the financial capacity to pursue them.
  • Equality: Canada’s global reputation of being a leader in human rights is greatly diminished by the elimination of a unique program admired around the world.
  • Democracy: Discriminatory laws and practices remain untouched and unchallenged for much longer.
  • Equality: Programs to provide protection from government discrimination such as LEAF for women, DAWN, for women with disabilities, Egale for gays, lesbians, bisexual and trans-identified people are limited in their ability to protect individuals as effectively.
  • Equality: The cancellation of the CCP diminished the disability community’s access to justice.

Court Challenges Program

Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Canadian Rape Stats

Neil Macdonald for CBC

Leah McLaren for the Globe and Mail

Jane Eaton Hamilton The Preludes to Assaults

 

The Preludes to Assaults

Feel free to share. Note this essay and my other essays on violence are collected here at the site on my page: On Violence.

#gomeshi #ghomeshi #ibelievelucy #IStandWithLucy #BillCosby #hairextensions #truthmatters #rapeculture #cndjustice

Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted]. I don’t know you very well, but I know this: one night in early 2004, after I’d been awarded a writing prize in Ottawa, you followed me to a side room annexed to the main hall, where I’d gone to get away from the crowds, and while my (then) wife was in the bathroom or off getting another drink, I’m not sure, you put your hand on me. That hand. One of the very hands that is being discussed in court this week. You closed the distance between us and you massaged my shoulder/neck while talking to me about how I needed to relieve the stress of my big win. Eventually my (then) wife returned, you dropped your hand (that hand), and we smiled politely and “uh-huh’d” while you bashed the Rockies, BC and, in particular, Vancouver.

You didn’t ask me if you could massage me. I guess you assumed you could touch me. The way men, the entitled 50%, have always assumed they could access women’s bodies at will. You were a star, and your status helped me to tamp down my resistance. I don’t know why the hell you picked me, as I had just been on stage thanking my (then) wife; I was obviously queer and out and significantly older. Maybe I was just the only woman alone during that function? I do know that a number of other men, and people elsewhere on the gender spectrum, have previously in my life singled me out for non-respectful interactions. The truth is, I did not step back, Jian Gomeshi, you [redacted], and I excoriate myself for that now. I should value myself more.

I was taught to be polite. I was taught to smile and nod and always, always be friendly. I was told that friendliness could get me out of pinches, even save my life, and indeed, through the years, this mostly proved to be true. Doing what men tell you to do is just a good idea. Not doing what they tell you to do can be disastrous.

I wish it weren’t so, because they would be illuminating, but stats for close calls don’t exist. The binds we’ve escaped because of our own instinct or intelligence or cunning remain undocumented.

Let me talk about what you touching me was and was not, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted]. Because you had followed me and waited until I was alone to approach, what you did was strange and mildly unsettling. I felt a sense of disquiet. But given my sexual orientation and marital status, I also didn’t take what you did particularly seriously. That night I stayed up with another Canadian literary luminary getting drunk and laughing until 4 a.m. He certainly didn’t massage me and I’ve never written a post about his bad behaviour, nor would I. Guess why? There wasn’t any.

Okay, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], I get that what you did to me was not a charge-able assault, or, arguably, even an assault. I didn’t take it as one, then, and I don’t now. But I’m going to tell you what it was. It was the something else that so many of us experience 1000 times a year as Canadian people assigned female at birth, and trans–and let’s name it for what I now believe it was: the prelude to a potential assault.

The preludes to potential assaults are these: language or behaviour or touching that create in their  targets vague senses of unease that we “get over” as the day or week wears on. There is so much of this kind of crap slung in women’s directions in the average day that often we don’t even bother mentioning an encounter. We don’t tell our spouse. We don’t tell our employer. We don’t call a friend. Because these little infractions against our sovereignty, these thousands of small infractions, intended to train us to patriarchy, are par for the course. But we all understand what they’re actually telling us: they’re actually reminding us about what could happen.

If, say, we get uppity. If, say, we say no. If, say, we fight back. If, say, he woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

A year before you massaged my back, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], you allegedly hurt Lucy de Coutere. And there were alleged other victims, too. With that same hand you extended to me. With that very same hand you used to caress me. If the allegations are true, you wrapped that hand around victims’ throats and choked them. If the allegations are true, you used one of your hands to slap and punch your victims.

But guess what, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], let me tell you something about society. There are lingering effects to minor harrassment. Harrassment is a bridge built of a substance called continuum that Canadian women walk over every day of our lives from the day we are pushed into our pink worlds to the day we close our eyes the last time. And on that bridge are guys, nice guys, scum nozzles, and turds rolled in sprinkles. On that bridge of spectrums are guys (and some others) with their hands out, fingers waggling. Guys demanding we pay the toll. We’ll let you cross, they say, but only if you’ll smile. Only if you’ll give us a little kiss. Only if you’ll stop a minute and chat. Only if you’ll go home with us. If you want an “A.” If you want that promotion. Only if you get scared, because we appreciate scared. Only if we get to bash you in the head, throttle you, rape you and leave you for dead.

They say, We know you like it. They say, You asked for it.

You know what this mountain of harassment (and worse) does to the harried? It makes us queasy. It makes us question our interpretations. It makes us question our importance. It makes us scared to go out at night. Nervous to walk our own streets. Careful to lock our windows. It makes us tamp ourselves down.

It does all that because it’s meant to do all that. That’s exactly what it’s for.

The truth is, we aren’t fully enfranchised members of society, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted].

This all has a name, this systemic oppression. It’s called misogyny, and in Canada we need an inquiry* to untangle its octopedal arms so we can root it the hell out of our country, and unfasten our institutions from it. Imagine the productivity here if all our population was equally enfranchised. Not 50%, or 60%, or 80%, but 100%?

Really, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], I want you to stop and think about that. I want you to imagine a different world, a world where one class of people can’t get away with (allegedly) treating another class of people violently.

Because right now, in part because of you, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], we people who’ve experienced violence are triggered. We are not just thinking about your behaviour, and your lawyer’s behaviour, we are thinking of so many other times in our lives where someone else has behaved badly, where someone didn’t respect and honour us.

Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], this is all coming back up for us, all at once, until it pools like another Canadian ocean under that bridge men have been having us walk, tying us together across the country in one collective wave. We are thinking about times someone followed us onto the bridge. Times we were groped. Times we were pressured. Times we were coerced. Times we were held against our will. Times we had brusies. Times we were battered. Times we were raped.

This collective will says, We are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.* Pretty soon, if we have our way, you guys with your baitings and assaults are all going to tumble off that bridge and drown in a big cold ocean of women rising up.

Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], ours is a world that celebrates the male. You know what else is part of our oppressive system? Not letting women drive, or vote, or own property, or go out without male accompaniment. Saying that girls are not good at math, giving girls passive toys, not letting women go to unversity, glass ceilings, few female politicians, women earning less than men for work of equal value, women bearing the brunt of child-rearing and housework, women who perpetuate stereotypes even as they obtain jobs where they could change them.

All that stuff we call sexism? That is just misogyny written in semen. Men like you built the world. You built it to work for you. And it works for you most of the time.

We are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.*

Some men are up in arms this week, cautioning Canadian women to calm the fuck down. Don’t get your sweet little heads all in a tizzy, they say, in Canada we have something called due process. This is supposed to happen to complainants in court. Ultimately, it protects all of us.

In Canada, during due process, victims get psychologically battered, and we, the potentially violated, are standing upright while court is in session, quite out of order, and questioning that. We are saying This is not okay. This is an abridgement of Canadian values and Charter freedoms.

We are saying to the survivors of spectrum violence and to the brave, fierce women in court: We believe you and we stand with you and our support will never waver.

Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], isn’t this quite the amazing system men have developed for themselves over the centuries? This system where women are achingly vulnerable, taught from a young age to submit, while the other half of the population (and a few strays from our side) takes advantage? Because let’s face it, what our patriarchy requires more than convictions, and we all know it, is an intact status quo.

So Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], thanks for the back rub. But just so’s you know: I’m an anti-fan.

 

 

*A Canadian inquiry on misogyny is the idea of barbara findlay, QC

*adapted from “Network,” the movie

Canada is Raping You

This talk talks about violence as a men’s issue and I recommend it highly: Jackson Katz’s Ted Talk

If you are trying to understand abusive minds, I recommend this book highly, whether your abuser is a man, a woman or someone on the continuum: Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, by Lundy Bancroft

Here is a very good blog post about this situation: Bone, Broth and Breastmilk

For people worrying about due process, this article, citing rape conviction stats in Canada: 1 in 1000:

What’s Really on Trial in the Jian Ghomeshi Case by Anne Kingston

The Oracle of Chappell Street

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