Jian Ghomeshi has been acquitted of all sexual assault charges against him, and reactions have been polarizing.
Julie Lalonde, project manager for the Draw-the-line campaign, encourages increased dialogue on sexual violence and is a survivor of sexual abuse herself. Lalonde says the outcome of Ghomeshi’s trial did not surprise her, but the way it was delivered certainly did.
It’s really sad to me that everyone I know who works in the sector predicted exactly what was going to happen today, we all knew that Jian would be found not-guilty. But I think most people were not anticipating an hour-long decision being read out by a judge who was just so blatantly victim blaming.
Pressure placed on alleged victims
Much of the case, according to Lalonde, was based on whether the women seemed like credible sources. Ghomeshi never took the stand and was able to move forward without a jury, but the women accusing him had to work hard to prove they were telling the truth. Lalonde says the idea of false allegations leading to conviction is often just plain misconception.
People think you can just say you were sexually assaulted and there’s going to be a trial and charges will be laid, that’s not the case. So what we know is that there’s this insinuation that the three women lied in this case, but what the experts are saying is that actually trauma plays a huge part in our memory comprehension.
Low conviction rate means women won’t come forward
Lalonde says that as a result of Ghomeshi’s acquittal, many women will not put themselves through the emotional strain of coming forward when a conviction is so unlikely. She believes a separate sexual violence court, similar to family court that currently exists, could be beneficial in the future to give more help to survivors.
Sexual assault cases in Canada very rarely rely on physical evidence, the instead rely on the credibility of the witness. So it’s not about, you know, ‘was a rape kit done, was there photographic evidence?’ It’s about ‘do I think the person on the stand is someone that should be believed?’
READ MORE: Jian Ghomeshi acquitted on all charges