A few brief thoughts on the Jian Ghomeshi saga as I eat lunch and ponder the response to his being found Not Guilty on all charges.
Ghomeshi was charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking. His defense rested primarily on the predication that these were all consensual encounters that were within the realm/boundaries of a BDSM lifestyle.
I am struggling with this and the response.
Signs and shouts with/of statements like “We believe the victims” and the like as well as “Gomeshi Guilty” are designed to show public support for victims of sexual violence.
Speaking as a victim of years of sexual abuse I can attest to how important it is to feel supported.
On the flipside I am concerned by the attitude which says “As soon as an accusation is leveled a person should essentially bypass court and simply be put directly in jail.”
There are only four people who know for sure whether Ghomeshi is guilty – Ghomeshi and the three women who leveled abuse accusations. No one else. Not me. Not you. Not the protestors with their well-meaning signs and chants.
I can tell you right now a witch-hunt style approach to sexual crimes will not help the victim’s cause in the long run. A rush to one extreme typically results in a rebound to the other.
The best system we have to address these accusations is our criminal justice system as flawed as it may be. If there are problems they need to be addressed there and not by adopting a lynch mob mentality.
As it stands Ghomeshi’s career is over. Punishment has already been meted out for something our criminal justice system says he is not guilty of. Don’t believe it? You and I do not have access to the evidence presented nor the experience of the judge and lawyers involved. We are bystanders.
Please know that blind belief is not the same as supporting a victim of sexual violence. Of course I want people to believe me when I tell them I have been abused. I am thankful that in the various instance of abuse in my life the justice system evaluated the evidence and each abuser was found guilty of criminal charges and jailed.
If you want to support a victim help develop an environment where they feel they can come forward and that includes a fair and equitable system of justice…fair enough that, no matter the results, the victim can feel that everything was done that could be done.
Develop free and easy, anonymous access to mental (and sometimes physical) health care that can assist with the healing process – it can take years.