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Gender Block: Canadian universities and sexual violence

Why do universities have such a laid-back approach to sexual violence on campus? Plus, CBC's documentary School of Secrets

Hillary Di Menna

On Monday night, CBC’s The Fifth Estate streamed the episode School of Secrets (still online). The episode featured Mandi Gray of Toronto’s York University and Glynnis Kirchmeier of the University of British Columbia. Both women have filed human rights complaints against their schools for not responding to reports of sexual assault by alumni. Since her rape, Gray has formed the radical group Silence is Violence, which has connected women on campuses across the country.

Gray, Kirchmeier, and another woman referred to as “Jane Doe”, who has been through a similar experience, are raising money for when they go to court. The Silence is Violence Legal Defense Fund is meant to even the playing field when it comes to court fees. As the group’s Indiegogo campaign page reads, “Our universities are multi-million dollar corporations. UBC recently announced raising more than 1.6 BILLION dollars.  Our universities have a team of lawyers employed to challenge our claims.” In the case of Jane Doe, the alleged abuser is a university professor, which means he is entitled to legal representation from a faculty association.

Since all women are students with precarious employment they cannot afford the same legal protection as their accused or their schools. In addition to the financial strain they continue to be re-victimized in the court system. All this knowing the odds are not in their favour. In the episode Gray’s lawyer says that out of an estimated 1,000 sexual assaults, only three are convicted. A lot of this has to do with victim blaming and the collective denial society has when it comes to the placating binary that bad things only happen to “bad”people.

On a positive note, since last week’s post, Dmitry Mordvinov was expelled, after several reports of sexual harassment and assault.

Donations to the Silence is Violence Legal Defense Fund can be made here.

A former This intern, Hillary Di Menna is in her second year of the gender and women’s studies program at York University. She also maintains an online feminist resource directory, FIRE- Feminist Internet Resource Exchange

 

 

A former This intern, Hillary Di Menna is in her second year of the gender and women’s studies program at York University. She also maintains an online feminist resource directory, FIRE- Feminist Internet Resource Exchange.

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