Regardless of the details, we should not judge or shame alleged victims
By Angela Espinoza, News Editor
On October 26, ex-host and co-creator of CBC Radio’s Q, Jian Ghomeshi was fired following allegations of sexual violence from three anonymous women. As more details have trickled out, the Ghomeshi case has become difficult for me to stomach.
It’s important to remember that none of the information provided thus far reveals the whole story. All we know is Ghomeshi was fired, and a growing number of nameless women have publicly accused him of physical and sexual assault.
The three women who initially came forward apparently had previous meetings with Ghomeshi. Throughout 2014, they had been working with the Toronto Star, providing accounts on their negative experiences with him. The women alleged that on separate accounts, Ghomeshi was violent towards them during both pre-arranged and non-consensual sexual encounters.
After Ghomeshi was fired, he took to Facebook with a post stating that the allegations were from “a jilted ex-girlfriend” and that outside information was part of a smear campaign against him. At this time, nine women have come forward, two apparently ex-CBC co-workers and one being Trailer Park Boys actress and Royal Canadian Air Force Captain Lucy DeCoutere—the only alleged victim to reveal her name.
As of October 31, Toronto police are looking into reports made by DeCoutere and one other victim. From my own experiences, I can say that the women’s initial choice of revelation was not surprising; for those only reporting to police now, the decision was likely not made without considering the vast amount of public support they’ve received.
The women claimed that they were physically assaulted. Some of them, as Ghomeshi and the women have stated, consented previously, not expecting him to be as aggressive as he allegedly was. Others have stated they were frightened and consented to various acts to keep the violence from escalating further. In addition, all of these women have come forward long after Ghomeshi allegedly attacked them, 10 years later in DeCoutere’s case. Assuming their situations are as revealed, they may not all have enough evidence to seek court cases out of their situations.
But whether or not Ghomeshi has done all that he’s been accused of, the fear of receiving the public defamation these women have already experienced anonymously is what kept them silent for so long. With all that said, no victim of sexual or physical assault should ever feel they need to be silenced, and this entire situation should serve as another example to change our victim-shaming society. To those now approaching the police, I’m devastated they felt they needed to wait until now, but applaud them for finding the strength.