The verdict in the case against Jian Ghomeshi this morning created immediate conversation for those of us that work at Women’s Health Clinic. We would like to share one of those reactions with you, from WHC counsellor Paula Denbrow. She writes:
When I read that Jian Ghomeshi had been acquitted I felt angry and frustrated. And I don’t want to be quiet about it. I hope that men and women everywhere will choose not to be quiet. As a counselor I witness a lot of pain and I hear many stories about violence against women. Many of these women feel guilt and shame and they find ways to excuse the behavior of the men who have hurt them. They express the fear that they will be scrutinized and shamed. And this ruling supports that belief.
Their stories made me think about my 12-year-old son and my 14-year-old daughter. I have done my best to teach them to be respectful and not to use violence and to speak out when they see something that they believe is wrong. The verdict in this court case goes against all of those teachings. If we accept this judgment then we’re telling my son that it’s acceptable to disrespect women and to use violence. At the same time we’re telling my daughter that victims of sexual crimes should remain silent.
For all of us who were hoping that this case would be a victory for survivors, we learned this morning that this would not be that case. We fear that this ruling is telling our daughters, our sisters, our friends, our loved ones that victims of sexual crimes should not speak up.
But WE are not silent. Thousands around the country are using the hashtag #ibelievesurvivors #ibelievewomen #believesurvivors to let women know they are not alone. Acquittal does not mean innocence. We are changing the conversation. Men and women need to continue to tell our friends, our family, and our children that it is not acceptable to disrespect women and use violence. We need to continue to tell our daughters that it is not her fault.
To the survivors, we hear you. We see you. And we believe you.