What’s Current: Police investigating bomb threat against A Woman’s Place meeting

What’s Current is Feminist Current’s daily news round up.

  • Police have confirmed they are working with the organizers of an event in Hastings after a bomb threat was made on social media. The event, organized by the campaign group “A Woman’s Place,” in order to discuss proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, went on as planned.
  • Defence lawyer Krysia Przepiorka has been admonished by a Calgary judge after asking a young woman why she didn’t clench her legs together to prevent her father from raping her.
  • DeeAnn Fitzpatrick says a decade of bullying at Marine Scotland’s Scrabster office, including being taped to a chair and gagged by two male colleagues, left her “broken,” and “morally and mentally destroyed.” Her case was recently heard at an employment tribunal, which has yet to give its ruling.
  • Colombian reporter Julieth Gonzalez Theran was sexually assaulted while reporting on the World Cup in Russia. As she went live on television, a man ran up and grabbed Gonzalez Theran’s breast, kissed her on the cheek, and took off.
Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Blazing Fire

    Calgary defense lawyer:

    Yeah right, a girl’s knees are Magdeburg hemispheres, that just can’t be pulled apart by 16 horses or elephants or whatever, if only she just bothered to slap them together. Huh.

    • cday881@gmail.com

      In other news, a mugging victim was admonished for not keeping his wallet in a safe.

      Oh wait . . .

      • Safa

        Nice try, bro. 98% chance the mugger was male, did not shove his dick up the victim’s ass, mouth, ear, etc., did not impregnate the victim, and was not the victim’s father. Go away. now.

  • Jani

    I was actually shocked to learn that in a US it is permissible to call into question the woman rape victim’s reputation in a legal trial. I read about this in a collection of essays in a book called Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture. The book is edited by Roxane Gay. The article I am referring to is by VL Seek, who was raped prior to becoming a law student.

    At university studying law, Ms Seek describes:

    – In Evidence, we learned how to discredit a witness on the stand. We learned the exceptions that would allow you to introduce a witness’s sexual history to undermine the idea that she was raped.

    She then goes on to describe the various ways of undermining — was the woman drinking? What was she wearing? And so on.

    I can remember the campaigns for better treatment for victims of rape in the UK judiciary system. That whatever a woman was wearing and whatever her sexual history and so on was not only irrelevant but was denying many women a fair trial. Now whether women are still humiliated in court today regarding their “conduct” at the time they were raped or their history and character called into question is another matter. Conviction rates remain disappointingly low and women are still reluctant to report rape. The principal that rape is penetration without consent, regardless of the woman’s past or what she wore, or had to drink or whatever. Not that defence lawyers wouldn’t try it on. Of course they would. There whole point is to get the rapist to walk free. However, I don’t think it’s actually allowed by law to call into question a woman’s character as it is under US law. I was shocked to read that it’s permissible.

    But to quote Rose McGowan from her book Brave,
    “To me rape cannot be defined by a law a man wrote. How would that man know what rape is?”

    I never reported my sexual assault at the age of 13 to the police. I was terrified that I would get into trouble from my parents because I didn’t go to school that day. Besides the guy who was the initiator said he would kill me. All I wanted to do was to pretend it didn’t happen. When I was acquaintance raped, I didn’t report it either. All I could think of was getting emergency contraception. Even when I look at the letter of the law, I can see where either “case” could be pulled apart by some bastard lawyer.

    • Tobysgirl

      All my sympathy for what you have been through. My mother failed me on many levels, but on one important level she did not: I always knew she would protect me, take my side, go after anyone who harmed me. My husband did not have this experience, and his three siblings were sexually molested by a babysitter’s son and never told their parents.

    • TwinMamaManly

      Interesting you should mention that book. I was going to mention I just finished reading a memoir by a young woman (Bri Lee) who was a judge’s associate upon finishing her law degree and accompanied him on the district circuit of Queensland which consisted of 95% sexual assault cases throughout regional and remote QLD (serious outback territory). At the same time she realised she needed to deal with her own historical child sexual assault, and it is her story, as a person technically “on the inside”, of her pursuit for acknowledgement of her experience (“Eggshell Skull”). Incredible story. She is one to watch. It offers a very powerful first person narrative into how difficult it is to get convictions for sexual assault.

      I don’t know your jurisdiction but where I am in NSW in Australia you actually can’t use a victim’s sexual history against them in a sexual assault trial. But I have just finished doing Evidence as a subject for my law degree, and while I’m obviously no expert, I would have a better than the average layperson’s understanding of the legislation. I found it almost sickening trying to get through the subject, particularly the case law, I nearly had to walk out of a couple of lectures because I was so angry I almost could not focus. The whole system is weighted heavily in favour of the defendant, the burden of evidence on the prosecution is unfathomably onerous, and the ordeals that testifying victim’s are put through are offensive, tormenting, degrading, humiliating and extreme. I felt it is patriarchy’s legal embodiment. Its no wonder so many victims do not persist with the process. Its no wonder so many trials end in acquittal.

      The whole system is rotten and dismally fails to take into consideration the special circumstances of traumatised sexual assault victims. I strongly feel we need to move towards a more inquisitorial system rather than adversarial, where the aim of the trial is to reveal the truth on the balance of probabilities, rather than a competition as to who can succeed in adducing evidence or preventing the other party from adducing evidence, in order to support their narrative, with a zero sum outcome. There also needs to be wholesale education of the judiciary and the public, particularly if they are going to serve as jurors, as to the realities of the nature of sexual assault and the victims – that they do not often behave “logically”, that it often does take long periods of time to disclose, that often there isn’t forensic evidence etc. Also that prior convictions should be disclosed, and character references for perpetrators should be disallowed (lets face it, rapists don’t look like monsters – they’re usually regular-looking guys with jobs and friends and interests and families). I honestly despair at how ineffective and hopeless the current system is, its astonishing there are any convictions at all, the people who work in the justice system and genuinely seek justice – police, prosecutors, investigators, victim support etc – should all get bloody gold medals as far as I am concerned.

  • bevtoastily

    Yes, we all understand the concept of innocent until proven guilty, idiot. Did you really think that anyone needed this explained to them? And wow- nice job figuring out that the Rose McGowan quote isn’t a “logical” argument – except that it was obviously not intended to be any kind of argument at all (legal or otherwise). Durrrrr you’re so smart. Get over yourself.

  • FierceMild

    Laws regarding rape were written by men and have their antecedents in property law and couverture; as such they favor men and do not take into account a woman’s experience of rape or of the prosecution of same in a legal system designed to serve men. That is the problem Rose McGowan’s statement was pointing to. Your refusal to see this is both illogical and unjust.